Steps Forward in Software Engineering | UMBC Industry News

Through our graduate programs in Software Engineering, UMBC is helping students enhance their technical experience and take the next step in their professional careers.

In today’s Industry News, we’re recapping recent innovations in software engineering, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence.

Increasing Security for Blind Technology Users

In the age of smartphones, many users create PINs or other digital passwords to protect their devices. However, these protection methods are largely visual, requiring the user to press specific characters on screen. As a result, it is much more challenging for blind or low-vision users to use these privacy measures. Recently, researchers have designed software that allows for convenient, non-visual password entry. Instead of entering a number sequence, users repeatedly hold their fingers to a large button on-screen until its vibrations correspond to each PIN digit. These vibrations are silent, and only perceptible to the phone’s user.

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Simulating Discrimination in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has many uses in the tech world, and fostering empathy is now one of them. Recently, MIT researchers developed “On the Plane”, a virtual reality role-playing game that simulates discrimination, specifically the xenophobia that minority groups face when traveling. By illustrating common types of prejudice, researchers hope to create an immersive experience that will build understanding across different communities.

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Identifying Software Bugs

When creating new software, it’s inevitable that there will be “bugs” – places where the code doesn’t work correctly – in the project. While many of these bugs could be a quick fix for coders, finding them can be extremely time-consuming, especially in a large or complex project. Using a new system called Fuzzware, researchers hope to streamline this process, automatically finding software issues for developers to fix. Fuzzware attempts to crash the application it is run on; although this seems counterproductive, it helps developers discover which areas of code are in need of improvement.

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Transcribing Handwriting with AI

Have you ever had trouble deciphering your own handwriting? There may be an AI for that! Originally created to help digitize historical documents, this handwriting AI has been helping people quickly transcribe handwritten texts. The software is equipped to identify many different languages and can be used on an extremely large scale; recently, researchers were able to digitize the National Archives of Finland, a task that consisted of over 2 million handwritten documents. The software can also be utilized for smaller projects; members of the public have been using the technology to decipher old family documents.

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