Category Archives: Transfer projects

Media Integration and Communication Centre transfer projects

PointAt system at Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Palazzo Medici Riccardi is one of the most important museums in Florence: in its small chapel, it hosts the famous fresco “La cavalcata dei magi” (“The Journey of the Magi”) by Benozzo Gozzoli (1421–1497).

The PointAt system’s goal is to stimulate the visitors to interact with a digital version of the fresco and, at the same time, make them interact in the same way they will in the chapel, reinforcing their real experience with the fresco. That is to use information technology to make teaching attractive and effective.

PointAt at Palazzo Medici Riccardi

PointAt at Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Visitors are invited to stand in front of the screens and indicate with their hand the part of the painting that interests them. Two digital cameras analyse the visitors’ pointing action and a computer vision algorithm calculates the screen location where they’re pointing. The system then provides audio information about the subject.

In designing the system, we considered the following issues:

  • Easy and simple interaction. Visitors don’t need any instruction or have to wear any special device.
  • High-resolution display. The fresco is displayed on large screens so that visitors can appreciate even small particulars (almost invisible in the real chapel).
  • Interactivity for different categories of visitors. Interaction should be satisfactory for visitors who just want an idea about the fresco, for those who are attracted by particular characters and for those who want to have complete information on the whole fresco.
  • Not intrusive setting. The physical setting must host both active and passive visitors (for example, the relatives of the person who’s actually interacting with the system and those interested in listening but not in being active).
  • Pleasant look & feel. The interactive environment is integrated within the museum and it respects the visitors’ whole experience.

PointAt is considered to be a good vanguard experiment in the field of museum didactics, and has been functioning successfully since 2004.

LIT: Lexicon of the Italian Television

LIT (Lexicon of the Italian Television) is a project conceived by the Accademia della Crusca, the leading research institution on the Italian language, in collaboration with CLIEO (Center for theoretical and historical Linguistics: Italian, European and Oriental languages), with the aim of studying frequencies of the Italian lexicon used in television content and targets the specific sector of web applications for linguistic research. The corpus of transcriptions is constituted approximately by 170 hours of random television recordings transmitted by the national broadcaster RAI (Italian Radio Television) during the year 2006.

LIT: Lexicon of the Italian Television

LIT: Lexicon of the Italian Television

The principal outcome of the project is the design and implementation of an interactive system which combines a web-based video transcription and annotation tool, a full featured search engine, and a web application, integrated with video streaming, for data visualization and text-video syncing.

The project presents two different interfaces: a search engine, based on classical textual input forms, and another multimedia interface, used both for data visualization and annotation. Annotation functionalities are activated after user’s authentication. The systems relies on a web application backend which has to handle the transcriptions and provide the necessary indexing and search functions.

The browsing interface shows the video collection present in the model. Users can select a video and play it immediately, and read the associated metadata and speech transcription in sync. Each record in the list of videos provides a link to the raw annotation in XML-TEI format, a standard developed by the TEI: Text Encoding Initiative Consortium. The annotation can be opened directly inside the browser and saved on the local systems. Subtitles are displayed at the bottom of the video while segments in the transcription area are automatically highlighted during playback and metadata are updated accordingly. When the text-to-speech alignment is completed through annotation activities, users can select a unit of text inside the transcription area and the video cue-point is aligned accordingly; on the contrary, scrolling the trigger on the annotated video segment highlights the corresponding segment of text.

The annotation interface is accessed by transcriptionists after authentication, and allows to associate the transcription to the corresponding sequences of video. Annotators can set the cue points of speech on the video sequences using the tools provided by the graphic user interface and assign them an annotation without having prior knowledge of the format used. The tool provides functionalities for the definition of metadata at different levels, or multiple “layers”: features can be assigned to the document as a whole, to individual transmissions, to speakers in the transmissions and to each single segment of the transcription.

The search interface is based on standard text input fields. It provides a JSP frontend to the search functions defined for the Java engine and uses the Lucene query syntax for the identification of HTML elements. The interfaces recalls a common ‘advanced search’ form, providing all the boolean combinations usually present in search engines and, for this reason, making users comfortable with basic features. Notably, some uncommon features appears among other fields, such as:

  • the ‘free sequence’ field, with option for defining it exact, ordered or unordered;
  • the ‘distance’ parameter, where free sequences can appear within specified ranges inside a single utterance;
  • the ‘date range’ parameter.

Advanced search features are shown inside dedicated panels which can be expanded if necessary. These panels give all the options for specifying the constraints of a query, as defined for the XML-TEI custom fields used in LIT. The extended parameters allow to:

  • set the case sensitiveness of a query;
  • perform a word root expansion of jolly characters present in the query;
  • set the constraint for specific categories defined in the taxonomy;
  • select specific parameters for utterances, such as type of speech (improvisation, programmed, executed), speech technique (on scene, voice-over), type of communication (monologue, dialogue), speaker gender and type (professional, non professional).

The system contains 168 hours of RAI (Italian Radio Television) broadcasts, aired during the year 2006. The annotation work was done by researchers of the Accademia della Crusca while LIT was under development, in late 2009. The database has approximately 20.000 utterances stored and using Lucene for search and retrieval does not raise any performance issue.

The system is currently under deployment as a module of the larger national research funding FIRB 2009 VIVIT (Fondo di Investimento per la Ricerca di Base, Vivi l’Italiano), which will integrate the tools and the obtained annotations within a semantic web infrastructure.

Accurate Evaluation of HER-2 Amplification in FISH Images

Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a cytogenetic technique used to detect and localize the presence or absence of specific DNA sequences on chromosomes.  FISH uses fluorescent probes, each tagged with a different fluorophore, that bind to specific parts of the chromosome. Through multi-band fluorescence microscopy the positions where the fluorescent probes bound to the chromosomes can be displayed so as to derive information of clinical relevance based on the presence and position of the fluorescent probes.

Accurate Evaluation of HER-2 Amplification in FISH Images

Accurate Evaluation of HER-2 Amplification in FISH Images

A sample application of this technique targets the measurement of the amplification of the HER-2 gene within the chromosomes, that constitutes a valuable indicator of invasive breast carcinomas. This requires the application to a tumor tissue sample of fluorescent probes that attach themselves to the HER-2 genes in a process called hybridization. These fluorescent probes carry a marker that emit light when the probes bind to the HER-2 genes, and this makes them visible as green spots under a fluorescent microscope. Similarly, a different probe, carrying a marker that makes it visible as a orange spot under a fluorescent microscope, is used to target the centromere 17 (CEP-17). Measuring the ratio of HER-2 over CEP-17 dots within each nucleus and then averaging this ratio for a representative number of cells allows estimation of HER-2 amplification.

In this research we present a system that supports accurate estimation of the ratio of HER-2 over CEP-17 dots in FISH images of breast tissue samples. Compared to previous work, the system incorporates a model to associate with each segmented nucleus a reliability score that estimates the confidence of the measure of the ratio of HER-2 over CEP-17 dots within the nucleus. This enables the computation of values of the ratio using only nuclei with high reliability scores so as to extract a measure of the amplification of HER-2 versus CEP-17 dots that better conforms to the evaluation of the pathologist compared to the ratio averaged over all available nuclei.

Mobile Robot Path Tracking with uncalibrated cameras

The aim of this transfer project is the motion control problem of a wheeled mobile robot (WMR) as observed from uncalibrated ceiling cameras. We develop a method that localizes the robot in real-time and smartly drives it over a path in a large environment with a pure pursuit controller, achieving less then 5 pixel on cross track error. Experiments are reported for Ambrogio, a two-wheel differentially-driven mobile robot provided by  Zucchetti Centro Sistemi.

Wheeled Mobile Robot path follower in uncalibrated multiple camera environment

Wheeled Mobile Robot path follower in uncalibrated multiple camera environment

The video below shows the improvements in the motion control of a wheeled mobile robot (WMR) with a controller that uses an osculating circle:

Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The Mediateca Medicea is a digital archive relating to Palazzo Medici Riccardi, one of the most important buildings in Florence, which now belongs to the Provincial Authority and houses the administrative offices. The Mediateca Medicea is designed in particular for academics and experts in the fields of art, history, the humanities, photography and the conservation of the cultural heritage, but also for students or scholars following up specific strands of research.

Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The database is made up of different types of interrelated materials: texts, images, graphic reconstructions, and anything else which may contribute to a knowledge of the building in historic, architectural, artistic and cultural terms. The Mediateca extends and elaborates the subjects dealt with in the website, with which it is connected.

The project has been organised and carried out by the Florence Provincial Authority, in collaboration with the Media Integration and Communication Center of the University of Florence, through the co-operation of a group of different professional figures (art historians, computer experts, photographers…) who have found a stimulating point of encounter in an innovative and flexible documentation tool that is at once exhaustive and easy to use.

The site is offered in the form of an in-progress database that will be extended, modified and updated in real time.

Multi-user interactive table for neurocognitive and neuromotor rehabilitation

This project concerns the design and development of a multi-touch system that provides innovative tools for neurocognitive and neuromotor rehabilitation for senile diseases. This project comes to life thanks to the collaboration between MICC, the Faculty of Psychology (University of Florence) and Montedomini A.S.P., a public agency for self sufficient and disabled elders that offers welfare and health care services.

A session of rehabilitation at Montedomini

A session of rehabilitation at Montedomini

The idea behind this project is to apply high-tech interactive devices to standard medical procedures used to rehabilitate desease patients with neurocognitive and neuromotor deficits. This new approach can offer new rehabilitative paths concerning digital training activities which means an advance upon conventional “pen and paper” approach.

neurocognitive neuromotor rehabilitation natural surface

Natural surface for neurocognitive and neuromotor rehabilitation

Such digital exercises will focus on:

  • attention
  • memory
  • perceptual disturbances
  • visuospatial disturbances
  • difficulties in executive functions

This new training tools based on interactive tables will be able to increase the stimulation of the patiens neuroplastic abilities. Our new rehabilitative paths, in fact, will provide:

  • audio-visual feedback for performance monitoring;
  • different difficulty degrees that can be graduated by the medical staff in relation to every single different patient through several parameters (e.g. response speed, exposure time of a stimulus, spatial distribution of stimuli, sensory channels involved, audiovisual tasks, number of stimuli to control and so on).

Innovative interactive surfaces will support the manipulation of digital contens on medium-large screens letting patiens and medical trainers interact through natural gestures for select, drag and zoom graphic objects. The interactive system will be even able to misure the activities of users storing the results of every rihabilitative session: in this way it is possible to provide a personal profile for every patient. Moreover, thanks to the collaborative nature of the system, we will introduce new training modalities which involve medical trainers and patients at the same time.


A technology transfer project realized for the international exhibition From Petra to Shawbak: archeology of a frontier. A multi-touch tableTop was realized for this exhibition that presents the results of the latest international archeology investigations and of the research conducted by the archaeological mission of the University of Florence in these past twenty years in Jordan at the sites of Petra and Shawbak, one of the most important historical areas in the world.

Natural interface realized for the international exhibition "From Petra to Shawbak"

Natural interface realized for the international exhibition "From Petra to Shawbak"

As of 2006, the Shawbak site has been the object of an innovative international Italian-Jordanian agreement of scientific and cultural cooperation between the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the University of Florence, which combines archaeological research, conservative restoration and valorisation.

Planning the exhibition has offered the opportunity to experiment and re-elaborate the latest practises of exhibition communication, defined in Anglo-Saxon countries and, to date, inedited in Italian archaeology exhibitions, while museological design, defining the approach to exhibition communication, and conceiving a strategy for visitor learning, are all totally innovative.

The exhibition itinerary has been conceived in three sections: 1) the discovery of an authentic capital that reinterprets the Crusader presence of the Seigniory of Transjordan, and begins a succession that crosses the dynasty of Saladin and reaches us; 2) the documentation of the diverse role performed by the frontier as a historical key of interpretation: from the ancient age (Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine), Arab-Islamic (Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid) up to the Crusader-Ayyubid and Mameluke ages, explored through the archaeological observatory of the region and of the sites of Petra and Shawbak; 3) the collection and “publication” of visitors’ comments.

The interface design was built on the initial definition of the Information Architecture, based on the contents that the archaelogical research unit intended to deliver during the exhibition.

It appeared immediately evident that all the contents available were related to two different dimensions: the time period and the definition level.

The time span along with the fortress was studied is roughly divided in 5 parts:

  • 2nd crusade, “The coming of the Crusaders”;
  • 3rd crusade, “Rise and fall of the Crusaders”;
  • Ayyubid, “The Ayyubid conquest”;
  • Mamluk, “The rise of Mamluks”;
  • Ottoman, “The Ottoman expansion”.

The different level of resolution, or zoom detail, through which the territory can be explored are five as well: “Transjordan” region, “Shawbak” castle, “The fortified gate”, “Masonries” elevations, and “Stones”.

Contents are made of videos, pictures and texts that show and explain the archaeological site for each of the described time span and zoom level.