This quarter I started research in the CSE Security and Privacy Lab, working on security for augmented reality (AR) systems. AR is defined as a system in which computer-generated sensory feedback is overlaid on the user’s perception of the world. With the power that AR systems have to control users’ perceptions, there come additional risks; previous work the lab had done in this area considered the type of risks that might arise in a system with one or more AR applications running and generating output. How can we design an AR system in which the OS has the needed control over where, when, and what applications can overlay while still allowing for the flexibility and opportunities the AR medium presents?
The project I joined this quarter involves some significant prototyping work relating to these concepts and questions. My first task was to help on the frontend with some contextual modeling for the prototype. Kiron Lebeck, the grad student I collaborated with, worked on the backend for the system.
I’ve learned a lot in my work thus far. In the course of working on my part of the project I learned a new 3D graphics library and a new programming language. From talking with Kiron I picked up slices of knowledge about operating systems, networks, and multithreaded programming. And from discussions with the two faculty members advising the project (Professor Franzi Roesner and Professor Yoshi Kohno), resources they recommended, and my own thought experiments, I expanded my understanding of the relevant security challenges and opportunities and strengthened my critical thinking in this area. I’ve gotten to practice skills I love using: designing things with the aim of designing them well, translating my thoughts into code, thinking and planning and analyzing. I’m very happy to add that by the end of the quarter I’d been able to start making a positive contribution to the project, building key auxiliary components.
Along with my research work I concurrently took the CSE 590Y security seminar, in which we read and discussed recently published papers in the field. This was an excellent complement to my research experience in that I got to see a broad spectrum of ways in which the security mindset can be applied to various subfields of CSE. I’ll be taking the seminar again next quarter and I’m eager to see what new topics will be discussed.
There is one other aspect of my experience researching this quarter that this reflection would not be complete without: the people. Both Professors Roesner and Kohno are very supportive and friendly; their communication has always been transparent, and they’ve made genuine efforts to include me in the proceedings of the lab. Kiron has a great collaborative attitude and is always happy to bring me up to speed on the status of his work, being mindful to explain at a level commensurate with my experience without oversimplifying more than is necessary for brevity’s sake. All of the other lab members are very collegial and amicable as well; when I attend the weekly general lab meetings, I’m struck by how often people smile. And though I’m the newbie freshman, I’m treated as a part of the community: I can be walking down the hall in the CSE building and a lab member walking the other way will wave and smile and say hello, regardless of whether there’s a looming paper deadline or finals week to occupy their mind. That, to me, speaks volumes about the culture of this lab.
I’m very much looking forward to continuing my research work in spring quarter. My contributions will take on an additional degree of complexity, becoming more closely integrated with Kiron’s work. The prototype is just starting to come alive; what lies ahead will be even better, and I’m excited to be contributing to the project.
My original Experiential Learning application is archived below: