College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Mr Andrew Clark was awarded a Master’s degree in Computer Science.

Recognition of Human Hand Gestures Explored in Virtual Reality World

Students are often told to stop playing games and focus on their studies, but master’s student Mr Andrew Clark found a way to make virtual reality his research focus. ‘I’m a big fan of virtual reality and gaming, and I had a strong interest in making virtual reality feel more intuitive and natural to users,’ said Clark.

Clark is full of praise for UKZN. ‘The University is the best in KwaZulu-Natal and one of the top universities in the country. The lecturers and course work are world class and I am proud to have graduated from such an institution,’ he said.

After completing his undergraduate and honours degrees in Computer Science, Clark stumbled upon gesture recognition, and getting users to use their hands to interact with the world in virtual reality. ‘My degrees thus far and the knowledge I gained, have assisted greatly in my current career path,’ he said.

Clark’s master’s study explored the recognition of human hand gestures and poses in virtual reality. He said that its findings point to the viability of hand gesture recognition for virtual reality, and open up possibilities for future research.

Clark believes that we are not far off from creating the technologies portrayed in the Avengers films.  ‘The idea is that in the future we will be able to control our environment with a wave of the hand, instead of using remote controls. So we’ll all be able to wave our hands over a futuristic table and arrange holograms, like Tony Stark,’ he explained.

His master’s experience was marked by both highs and lows. ‘Completing my masters was exciting yet exhausting and eye-opening yet mind-boggling. I’m glad to finally have it behind me, yet at the same time I’m sad to see it go.’

Clark thanked his supervisor, Mr Anban Pillay in the Computer Science Department who, ‘fuelled my drive and gave me a clear focus. I couldn’t have done it without him.’

He said that he thoroughly enjoyed lecturing in the third-year 3D computer graphics module at UKZN. ‘It was an exciting experience to expose the students to modern day 3D simulation tools. They were really enthusiastic.’

He is currently employed at ThoroughTec Technologies, where he is involved in crafting the future of 3D mining and military simulations using cutting-edge technology and workflows, and hopes to fulfil his childhood dream of starting his own video game company in the future.

Words: Sashlin Girraj