Ph.D Proposal Fail – Really a Win in Disguise!

I’m applying to do a Ph.D through research at the moment, and for this you need to come up with a research proposal – that is, 250 words outlining the area of research you’re going to undertake, and it can be basically anything… So, I’m thinking and thinking – what can I research? What would be super awesome that I might be able to actually do if I worked really hard on it for a few years? And then I wrote this:

Title: The development and application of augmented reality overlays for route finding and navigation

Description: In our increasingly networked lives we have access to large libraries of geographical data and the ability to easily plan our journeys through the use of freely available electronic map services such as Google Maps, which can provide us with a list of directions or audio cues to aid our navigation from A to B.

The goal of this project is to undertake the research, development and creation of an automated navigation overlay software system that can be used in conjunction with modern smartphones that have the capacity to use an Internet connection together with GPS tracking, magnetic and accelerometer data and a camera, to provide real-time or near real-time visual aides in the form of augmented reality overlays to assist in personal or vehicular navigation.

By providing the facility to overlay translucent guide-lines along with any other pertinent information such as road names and distances, it is envisaged that this system will greatly assist in navigation to, from and within unfamiliar locations either on the smartphone display for pedestrian traffic, or with the potential for a windscreen projected display for vehicular traffic, similar to existing military and more recently commercial grade aircraft.

If you’ve ever been to a hospital and followed a coloured line to reach a location such as the X-Ray department – this is, in essence, what the system aims to provide; a coloured line that you can follow – to anywhere we have maps.

And then during my research found this video, released a mere –three days– previously:

Hot-damn! It’s been done!

At first I was a bit miffed, because it’s something I thought I could really get my teeth into, but now I’m incredibly glad I found out about it when I did – can you imaging what would happen if you spent years working on something and then just before you finished someone else one-upped you by getting their system out first? You’d be spitting blood!

So anyway, I’ve gone back to the drawing board and came up with kinda synthesis on a virtual reality (not a big fan of that term, but there we go) based concept using modern day software and hardware – and it’s gonna be frack’n ace, assuming I get accepted into the program, and I can thrash out a finalised research proposal!

Apparently, the entire first year of a full-time, three year Ph.D is spent doing a literature review and planning how you’ll go about the research, though sager minds than mine advise that the literature review starts on Day 1, and doesn’t stop until final submission… and I can really see why, now.

Assuming I get an tentative green light to go ahead with the initial literature review, with the project I have in mind (which I’m going to keep under my hat for the time being), it could just be a case of finding a value-add to push my work out incrementally further than what has passed before, via the age-old adage of standing upon the shoulders of giants to get the work published and earn my stripes.

In all honesty, I’m both nervous and excited about the prospect of committing myself to a number of years of research and study, but if I’m really going to do this, and do it right – then it could be simply killer. As in in killer app.

To make with the Bard, I guess this is where I screw my courage to the sticking place… For he who dares do more is none =D

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