Fu Chi Thesis Team Presents in San Francisco

The Future Chinatown (Fu Chi) thesis team, Danny and I (Georgia) presented last Sunday at the PURBA workshop of the 9th annual Pervasive Computing Conference in San Francisco. Our invitation came after our paper, Fu Chi: A Mobile Communication System for Philadelphia’s Chinatown was accepted to the workshop. PURBA was organized by computer scientists at MIT to explore “the research challenges and opportunities in applying the pervasive computing paradigm to urban spaces. We are seeking multi-disciplinary contributions that reveal interesting aspects about urban life and exploit the digital traces to create novel urban applications that benefit citizens, urban planners, and policy makers.” We were thrilled at the opportunity, and our presentation (though it was only 10 minutes) was very well-received. There were many other interesting work presented, including a way to auto-generate content on public screens (making them more interesting and cutting costs), and how to use taxi signals to learn about traffic patterns.


After all the equations that were presented, we think the participants found our presentation very engaging and liked the change of pace, which focused on social aspects of the Chinatown neighborhood in Philly. You can read more about our thesis project at our website In the general discussion after completion of all presentations, our project was often mentioned as an example of an application that was trying to solve a real urban problem, while many of the other projects used data that was available and applied particular mathematical models to see what could be revealed. Though we weren’t as familiar with all the technical concepts that were discussed, we felt that our project definitely fit with the theme and our work was a useful contribution to the work at the conference.

Of course we had to check out San Francisco’s Chinatown while we were there, it was beautiful, much bigger than Philly’s Chinatown, and much cleaner, but then that it may have something to do with the $1,000 fine for leaving trash on the street (in Philly it’s $300).

I also got to catch the kick off of San Francisco Design Week with a salon at Smart Design on Technology and the Meaning of Life. Panelists included several leaders of innovation at Smart Design and Allison Arieff, Opinionator columnist for the NYTimes who writes about design, architecture and sustainability. The topic aimed to explore how we can find meaning today when our devices and media seem to be demanding so much of our attention. Questions were raised about the fact that some of the most popular social media sites are aimed at helping us make decisions (Yelp, Bing, etc) but often what happens is we just use them to make decisions for us. The internet is now being shaped around what people search for the most, but does that mean we will no longer be able to come across something interesting and totally out of our comfort zone that could help us expand our perceptions? The head of Industrial Design at Smart talked about technology as a merry-go-round, where we have to jump on while it’s spinning slowly, then it starts going faster and faster until it throws us off, making it unlikely that we will get back on again. Most of the panelists have small children, and are making concerted efforts to limit the time they spend looking at screens during the day.


In all it was a fantastic trip, we’re very thankful MiD was able to help us get there and hope more students get to experience the same.

Fu Chi Thesis Team Presents in San Francisco
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This entry was posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011 at 2:02 am by azahn123.