Derek Olson, a native of Sussex and
a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, has written
a computer program that combines music and art, and which is
turning heads in the tech industry.
SUSSEX - Derek Olsonís capstone project at the University of
Wisconsin-Stout has accomplished more than capping off his college
career. The "Transient Multi Touch Interface" he designed
has gained him recognition at national student competitions and even
Olson, 22, graduated in 2004 from Hamilton High School and is a
senior art student at UW-Stout with a concentration in multimedia
"Itís focused on solving problems creatively," Olson
By focusing on many disciplines such as graphic design, Web
design, audio and video as well as interactive technologies, Olson
created his project: a multi-media work that incorporates computer
technology and programming, art and music.
"Iíve always had a major interest in music," Olson
said. "I play piano, guitar and sax. I was interested to have
that passion mix with what I was doing in school."
Olsonís project involves a large, flat screen set up like a
table with the ability for multiple users to touch the screen and
cause a response with music, lights and graphics.
While some people might be familiar with "smart board"
technology, which allows users to directly interface on the screen,
the difference in his project, Olson said, is that multiple people
can interface at the same time.
"I wanted to do something creative that anybody could
use," Olson said.
The project earned second place in the Association for Computer
Machinery Special Interest Group on Graphics "Space Time
Interactive Competition," and Olson will travel to Los Angeles
in August to attend the organizationís conference and exhibit his
The event, Olson said, will be attended by some of the biggest
names in multi-media technology, such as LucasArts and Pixar.
The project also earned an honorable mention in the Adobe Design
Achievement Award competition.
Creating the project required a multi-disciplinary approach,
which Olson said fits well with his background.
An art major who participated in First Robotics while in high
school, Olson used both skill sets for the project, which he
describes as an interactive sculpture. He sees applications,
however, for education and entertainment as the project continues to
"Right now, itís interactive art," he said.
The cumulative project helped Olson get the attention of Mode, a
motion design production studio based in Chicago, where heíll
begin an internship next week.
Olson said he hopes to continue focusing on human and computer
interactivity and animation when he begins his post-college career
A video of Olsonís project can be viewed at http://derekolson.blogsite.org/projects/transient/transient.mov