Reality Computing



Pyry Matikainen, John Folan


Reality computing encompasses a constellation of technologies related to capturing, working with, and displaying/fabricating spatial data ("reality data"). This project-based course asks students to apply reality computing technologies to real-world projects loosely organized around a rotating theme. Topics of special focus within the course are residential design (John Folan) and augmented reality and robotics (Pyry Matikainen).

Each semester, the reality computing course is centered around a different theme. For Spring 2017, the course will focus on more heavily on rapid prototyping and the creation of design tools for such. Within the constellation of reality computing technologies, this is likely to rely most heavily on 3d reconstruction, 3d printing, and virtual reality.

Labs / Lectures / Projects

Lab 1: Texture Capture and Synthesis. Due Wed., Jan 25.

Lab 2: Working with Panoramas and Pointclouds. Due Wed., Feb. 8.

Lab 3: VR Video


Lecture: Vectors, matrices, and numpy

(a non-interactive version of the linear algebra lecture)

Recommended Background

Students are not expected to be proficient or even familiar with all of the many topics within reality computing, but some mathematical background is suggested.


Course Structure

This is a project-based studio course. Students will work both on assigned class-wide projects ("labs") as well as on individual/group projects of their choosing.

If they wish, teams may be matched with advisors from Autodesk Pittsburgh who will give additional guidance on the technical aspects of the reality computing technologies that are being employed.

Course Time/Schedule

16-457 students have class on Monday/Wednesday 1:30pm to 3:20pm. UDBS students MWF 12:30 to 4:20 pm. 16-457 students are welcome to work with the architecture students on Fridays, but doing so is completely optional.

This is a project-based studio. Roughly the first six weeks will be devoted towards a series of labs. The remainder of the semester students will work on their individual/group projects of their choosing.


Labs: 50% (including paper presentation), Final project: 25%, Participation/effort: 25%


The labs are short projects/assignments, meant to be completed on roughly a weekly schedule. Some of these are purely educational, while others will advance real work alongside the architecture studio.

Labs will be graded on based on short presentations to the class (typically due on Wednesdays) and documentation, using the following criteria:

In addition, at some point during the semester each student will choose and present to the class a paper or project related to reality computing. For the purposes of grading, this presentation counts as a lab.

Final Project

The final project can be based on anything related to reality computing.


You are expected to attend class. Three or more unexcused absences will be grounds for failure at the discretion of the instructor.

Ideate Policies and Facilities

Please read and become familiar with the IDeATe lending and purchasing policies, which can be accessed at The IDeATe facilities are shared student resources and spaces. As such, all members of the IDeATe community are expected to be respectful of the equipment, the spaces, and fellow students and their projects. Always clean up after completing your work, put things back in their correct place, and leave the lab in better condition than you found it.

Students may be required to purchase materials to complete class projects. For convenience, some materials are available for borrowing and for purchase at IDeATe Lending (Hunt A29).

Contact Info / Office Hours

Pyry Matikainen (pmatikai at andrew): Newell-Simon Hall (NSH) 4519, office hours Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-4:30pm.

John Folan (jfolan at andrew): College of Fine Arts (CFA) 212B, office hours Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.

Example/Potential Course Projects

Design Tools

Adaptive Elements


[schedule in flux]


Autodesk Reality Computing Blog (many examples of reality computing applications)