alan.transon@gmail.com
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Alan Transon

Alan Transon

Software Engineer

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Master thesis
Ratchet Galaxy
Symfony app
Tetris-playing AI
Timeless

Master thesis

Exploring embodiment phenomenon in virtual reality when facial expressions control illusion is induced

The main content of my master's thesis revolved around some research about the phenomenom of embodiment in virtual reality while using a system that tracks and reproduces the facial expressions of the user onto his virtual body.

In my main experiment, a hardware developed by other members of my laboratory tracked various facial features of the user. Through machine learning, it allowed me to follow some face expressions. This tracking was used in Unity so that the avatar of the user would reproduce facial movements of the user, thus creating the feeling that the user was in full control of the avatar's face.

This setup was combined with OptiTrack, a motion capture system, so that some body movements of the user in the real world would be reproduce by the avatar via inverse kinematics techniques, in order to reinforce the embodiment phenomenon which strength is greatly correlated with the fidelity of the movements of the avatar.

During this experiment, two groups of people were asked to do a certain task that involved moving one of their arm and moving their head. During this wholetime, their face expression was reproduced by the face of their virtual avatar which was visible in a mirror and, for one of the twos groups, the avatar would gradually smile (and thus take away part of the control of the face). The main objective of this experiment was to find wether or not such a process would be noticed by users and if that would influence the embodiment. Other elements that were explored included the emotional impact of this induced smile.


Ratchet Galaxy

This website, which deals with the video game series Ratchet & Clank, began as a solo project, and eventually became the living place of an active community held together by a team of 10 people, shared between a French and an English side.

From its origins back in 2007 to its current days with the latest version relying on the Symfony framework, this project allowed me to learn a lot about team work and more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to practice my programming skills on a regular basis and to be confronted with the problems that can occur on a project stretching over a long period of time.

The development of the new version using the Symfony framework has been the occasion to build a full web application from scratch that included the creation of a well featured CMS thought to handle multilingual content and a lot of team work with a graphic designer to elaborate and integrate a responsive design that handles all kinds of devices.

Statistics :

  • 3.5 million page views per year
  • 500 000 visitors per year


Multimedia educational tool

This contract obtained through the Junior-Entreprise of Télécom Bretagne concerned the development of a Symfony web application allowing users to create presentations for educational purposes based on a novel principle.

The approach is to first create a "matrix of grains" where multimedia content will be added. Once filled, this matrix allows to create multiple presentations of the same theme thus giving flexibility to both the person creating the presentation (via the choice of content he can use) and the viewer (that will be proposed a number of alternatives and complementary documents based on the presentation he just watched). To know more about the system, please read the second publication listed below.

My role ranged from software design to the actual implementation including backend and frontend. This project allowed me to be confronted to many issues with a specific focus on usability and extensibility as the development was to continue after my contract was over.



Related publications

  • Antin, R. S. & al. (2016a) : Un système générateur de récits au service de la médiation interculturelle. Actes du colloque GLAT 2016, « Acteurs et formes de médiation pour le dialogue interculturel » ; Padoue, mai 2016.
  • Antin, R.S. & al. (2016b) : Cultural and Educational Mediation meets multimedia-based adaptive storytelling. A profile-sensitive system for personalized presentations. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, vol. 16, n. 5, pp. 105-113

Tetris-playing AI

As part of competitive entrance exams I took back in 2012, I worked on an artificial intelligence able to play Tetris. The result was a program made in OCaml (a functional language) which was based on Pierre Dellacherie's algorithm that relied on a simple heuristic.

The project available on GitHub is the result of the rewriting of the original OCaml program in C++. The environment in which the AI can play can be customized (different grid sizes, not only the 10x20 classic one) as well as the pieces (polyominos) that are to be played. Along with the usual tetraminos, other polyominos (dominos, triominos) can be played by the AI.

The AI as it is can consider multiple moves in advance, thus providing better results than the original algorithm of Pierre Dellacherie. In the end, my algorithm managed to hit an average score of 132 millions lines which was a world record for a Tetris-playing AI to my knowledge at the time.


Timeless

As part of my curriculum at Telecom Bretagne, I was tasked to create a video game in Python. Using SuperHot mechanics (which is in 3D), I designed a 2D game based on time flow. To sum up, time will flow at full speed only when the player actually moves. From this very simple idea, Timeless builds a gameplay that focuses on dodging and a bit of infiltration to encourage players to have various approaches.