Who’s New in Google Summer of Code: Part 7

Friday, July 15, 2011

This is our seventh post in our summer series where we feature three or four new organizations participating in their first Google Summer of Code each week. The organization administrators and mentors explain their projects in more detail and discuss some of the tasks the students are working on this summer.
Connexions is a free, global repository of educational materials published under a Creative Commons license so that anyone can create, reuse, remix and repurpose Connexions content. We currently house K-12 and post-secondary materials in many subjects and a variety of languages. Our content is available on the web and in many formats including PDF, EPUB, and HTML downloads, plus our open source software platform makes it easy to remix and adapt content to suit your particular needs, all while maintaining attribution to the original author. Connexions content is used by universities, community colleges, primary and secondary schools, and lifelong learners worldwide.

This is our first year to participate as a mentoring organization in Google Summer of Code and we are very excited to have two students working with us. Marvin Reimer is improving our authoring editor by creating an interface with Google Docs. David Bain will be improving our author profiles and creating an author widget that will allow authors to feature their Connexions content on their own site.

By Ed Woodward, Connexions Technical Director


Darktable is an open source RAW developer. RAW is the unprocessed capture straight from the camera's sensor to the memory card, nothing has been altered. There are multiple alternatives in the open source world for RAW development (ufraw, dcraw, rawtherapee) but darktable tries to focus on the workflow to make it easier for the photographer to quickly handle the thousands of images a day of shooting can produce. It's also one of the very few FOSS projects able to do tethered shooting. The internal architecture of darktable allows users to easily add plugins for all sorts of image processing, from the very simple (crop, exposure, spot removal) to the most advanced (simulation of human night vision).

We are a small organization and are participating for the first time in Google Summer of Code so we decided we could mentor only one student, but we were lucky and got a very active and efficient student. His project will improve a couple of areas, but already he has changed the whole code for generating the main screens (removing a dependency on libglade and allowing a more modular approach) and he has rewritten the input system to be able to handle shortcuts in a very generic way. We expect the next version of darktable to allow easy shortcuts to every possible action.

By Jeremy Rosen, Darktable Organization Administrator


Code for America, a new non-profit, recruits passionate, talented developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to use their skills to build technology that solves core civic problems and makes government more open and efficient. Each year, we select around 20 individuals for our service-year fellowship program to work hands-on with government, developing innovative software and growing local developer communities. We consider it something like a peace corps for geeks. And this year we were thrilled to add 8 Google Summer of Code students to the corps.

Our Google Summer of Code students have not only supported our ongoing projects, but they’ve enabled our small, new organization to develop technology that helps developers everywhere get involved in our mission:
  • Developer tools -- wrappers, gems, and eggs -- for numerous open civic data sets, such as the FCC and the World Bank, jumpstarting civic hacking by making it easy for coders to get going
  • A series of data scrapers for government websites (which are frankly often difficult to read, let alone access programmatically), which aggregate the data in a useful, federated database that will serve as the groundwork for future app development
  • A data visualization and analysis dashboard for the Open311 data standard, the growing international standard for constituent reporting, that will help any government anywhere that uses the standard to make better decisions and be more open to its citizens.
Just as important as the work they all are doing, we believe, is the experience of it all. We’re hoping to develop the next generation of civic leaders who can make a difference with technology and are passionate and committed to do so. And from what we’ve seen so far, our Google Summer of Code students are ready to lead -- we are excited to see what they accomplish this summer and into the future.

By Abhi Nemani, Code for America Organization Administrator


The Point Cloud Library (PCL) is a large-scale, cross-platform, BSD-licensed project for processing 3D point clouds. With the advent of new, low-cost hardware such as OpenNI compatible cameras and continued efforts in advanced open source 3D point cloud processing, 3D perception gains more and more importance in robotics, as well as other fields. The PCL project presents an advanced and extensive approach to this subject with a consortium of over 30 institutions, over 130 developers/contributors, and hundreds to thousands of users all over the world.

Our Google Summer Of Code projects for PCL are essential for advancing certain capabilities that many applications involving 3D perception need, such as:
  • Real-time surface triangulation and point cloud meshing from noisy data: Many applications, such as object recognition and manipulation/grasping in robotics, require surface or CAD models as input. Our meshing techniques attempt to recreate the underlying surface that a given point cloud represents with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Point cloud registration for creating 3D panoramas and large-scale maps: From indoor mapping for personal robotics, to outdoor "street view", everyone needs consistently registered 3D maps. The PCL team, in collaboration with our Google Summer of Code students is working hard to push the limits of automatic point cloud registration for a variety of applications.
  • Object recognition and surface segmentation: recognizing objects and surfaces in the world is of extreme importance for augmented reality solutions and robotics applications. Our goal is to provide a repository of recognition techniques that can be easily combined to solve a range of complex problems.
  • Fast kd-tree nearest neighbor search: Finding nearest-neighbor points in 3D point clouds is an operation that lies at the core of many of the above algorithms, so in order to have fast and scalable 3D perception capabilities, it is essential to optimize it as much as possible.
During Google Summer of Code we are working to optimize and port our current kd-tree search algorithm to the GPU.

By Radu Rusu, Point Cloud Library Organization Administrator
These are just four of the 50 new organizations participating in Google Summer of Code this year. For a complete list of the 175 organizations participating in the Google Summer of Code visit our program site. Please check back next Friday when we feature still more new organizations.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs