Design Engineering
Showcase

Emotech

Student
Hannah Qureshi
Team
Design Team
Supervisor
Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara
Role
Design Engineer
Sector
Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Emotech is an AI start-up, founded in London in 2014, aiming to redefine the relationship between humans and technology. The versatility of Design Engineering has meant that I could be involved in a variety of different projects including UI-UX design, web development and visual coding. My contributions have been towards the development of Lipsync.AI, a digital human whose speech movements and voice are generated by AI. It allows users to turn text or audio inputs into an animation that can be applied to any 3D character.

 — Emotech

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

My work on Lipsync.AI can be broken down into three main projects: the Unreal Engine Demo, 3D Modelling, and Promotional Materials.

The demo was a way for us to quickly review changes being made to the models inside the game engine Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), without having to render computationally intensive high-resolution videos every time. While building the demo, I applied and improved my ability to develop efficient workflows and optimized solutions. I created functions that make the avatar speak and repeat sentences, as well as change the avatar and camera view. I built these in UE4’s ‘Blueprints’, a visual coding system. When building these functions, I improved my ability to build robust and reusable solutions since I knew we would be adding more characters in the future.

Much of my 3D modelling work went into helping to create and edit new characters, the most recent of which I created myself. I used WrapX to wrap new character meshes over our original model. I learnt to attach the skeleton to the mesh, check the shape keys, and alter the model appearances in Blender. I also used Maya to export materials that we wanted to use from new models. While designing, modelling and wrapping characters, I used an iterative design approach to constantly re-evaluate changes while learning new software.

The promotional materials included a mobile demo to send to clients, a short video, and a one pager website. I designed and wireframed the mobile demo in Figma and built it using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I had no web-development experience before this project, so again I iterated over different implementations while becoming familiar with the programming languages. For the website and video, I carried out competitor research to see how other tech companies market their products. From this I put together some visual mood boards and basic wireframes in Figma. I also built a way for us to render out video clips in UE4 without disturbing our previous work and then edited them in premiere pro.

Overall, the projects allowed me to put a lot of my Design Engineering skills into practice, which helped me grow a lot more confident in my abilities through feedback from more experienced team members.

Role and Contributions

As a Design Engineer my role at Emotech has varied depending on the ongoing projects. Working on the Unreal Engine Demo, 3D Modelling, and Promotional Materials has allowed me to learn a range of new skills, from web development to 3D modelling to visual coding. I believe I saved time and energy for the team in all my contributions, particularly my work in UE4 and 3D modelling, since I could help implement large features as well as quickly troubleshoot and fix small issues. Hopefully the work I have done on the promotional materials will also help to attract new clients and be able to convey what Lipsync.AI can do.

The most significant challenge I faced during my placement was learning new skills, as nearly everything I worked on required me to use new software. Having done this, I am now more confident in my ability to quickly pick up new things. I have developed professionally, with significant improvements in my confidence, initiative and efficiency when approaching a task.

Summary

My placement at Emotech has been incredibly valuable in allowing me to practice Design Engineering in a work environment, learn brand new skills and develop as a professional. The placement is a fantastic opportunity to realise how you would like to develop in terms of a career path and working on a wide range of digital projects reinforced my desire to pursue a career in digital design.

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