Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Computer Science & Computer Engineering

Advisor

John Gauch

Committee Member

David Andrews

Second Committee Member

Jackson Cothren

Third Committee Member

Susan Gauch

Keywords

gesture recognition, Microsoft Xbox, Kinect, programming, visual interface

Abstract

Computer programming is an integral part of a technology driven society, so there is a tremendous need to teach programming to a wider audience. One of the challenges in meeting this demand for programmers is that most traditional computer programming classes are targeted to university/college students with strong math backgrounds. To expand the computer programming workforce, we need to encourage a wider range of students to learn about programming.

The goal of this research is to design and implement a gesture-driven interface to teach computer programming to young and non-traditional students. We designed our user interface based on the feedback from students attending the College of Engineering summer camps at the University of Arkansas. Our system uses the Microsoft Xbox Kinect to capture the movements of new programmers as they use our system. Our software then tracks and interprets student hand movements in order to recognize specific gestures which correspond to different programming constructs, and uses this information to create and execute programs using the Google Blockly visual programming framework.

We focus on various gesture recognition algorithms to interpret user data as specific gestures, including template matching, sector quantization, and supervised machine learning clustering algorithms.

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