Online lecture viewers can zoom, pan within videos using new software

The program offers two functions particularly useful for educational applications: automatic tracking, which allows the video to follow the professor around the room; and slide synchronization, which aligns presentation slides with the video.

Sometimes when a professor uses a slideshow presentation, he or she may inadvertently block parts of the slides from the camera’s view. The ClassX program can display a clean version of the slideshow presentation alongside the video. Users can select a particular slide from the slide deck and then jump to that point in the video.

While the project has received positive feedback from users, Halawa said there are no current plans to commercialize it. Instead, the program code has been released as open source and others are encouraged to contribute.

Halawa said that based on user feedback, his team eventually hopes to add automatic source captioning to convert speech to text and image processing to convert writing on the board to text. Both functions would reduce the amount of notes students need to take during lecture.

Currently, ClassX works for desktop computers. Led by graduate student Derek Pang, the team has been developing a mobile version of the program for tablets and smartphones. The team plans beta deployment of ClassX Mobile in fall of 2011.

The team members have performed initial experiments with Android and hope to develop an iOS (formerly iPhone Operating System) player to make the technology available to iPhone and iPad users.

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