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UC Merced receives $500,000 grant to study human gesturing

Scientists at UC Merced received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Thursday to develop new techniques for duplicating human actions in the virtual world.

Their studies could lead to better animation for computer games, movies, and even online tutorial programs.

Computer scientist Marcelo Kallmann and cognitive scientist Teenie Matlock will work with graduate students to analyze how humans gesture and then create computer models that generalize the gestures to new situations in the virtual world.

At the end of their three-year grant, Kallmann and Matlock hope to create a database of the gestures that can be used by graphic programmers and animators.

Together with colleagues from the School of Engineering, Kallmann and Matlock have previously received grants from the National Science Foundation in 2007 and 2008.

One award funded the visualization and motion-capture facility at UC Merced, and the other was used to buy humanoid robots.

In total, they have been awarded nearly $1.25 million, contributing to the establishment of a Center on Autonomous and Interactive Systems at the campus.

— Danielle E. Gaines