CAPSTONE PROJECTS INSPIRING SOLUTIONS FOR MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES

There are so many inspiring capstone projects that offer innovative solutions to challenges in media and communication. Students constantly impress with their ability to identify real-world issues and design thoughtful interventions. Here are just a few examples:

Many students tackle the problem of misinformation online and propose new tools for verifying facts. One group built a browser extension that checks claims on social media against databases of fact-checked information. It tags posts with warnings if they contain untruths. Another developed an AI assistant able to discuss any topic and clearly distinguish verifiable facts from opinions or impossible claims. Projects like these could help curb the spread of falsehoods that mislead the public and undermine public discourse.

Accessibility is another area rife with opportunity for clever solutions. One senior designed an augmented reality app allowing deaf users to attend live events or lectures while seeing captions overlaid on speakers in real-time. Computer vision recognizes who is talking andPulls transcripts from a database. Elsewhere, a student invented a browser plugin replacing CAPTCHAs With audio descriptions of images to Verify humans for websites in a manner accessible to the blind. Such thoughtful ideas make the web and real-world experiences more inclusive for those with disabilities.

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Localized communication breakdowns also provided inspiration. In areas hit by natural disasters, power outages can cut communities off from emergency alerts and aid coordination. But one group devised a mesh network system utilizing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth between phones, allowing information to still circulate even without cell service. Separately, for isolated rural villages in developing nations, another capstone invented a voice assistant accessible through any phone that local farmers could call for real-time price comparisons, weather forecasts, and other services normally only available online. Projects like these demonstrate how technology can strengthen communities under duress.

Some seek to remedy information gaps. A student worked with tribal elders to compile their abundant traditional ecological knowledge into an interactive database with photos and audio clips. Now younger generations and students can access teachings on indigenous plant uses, seasonal cycles, and wildlife in a culturally-sensitive digital format to promote cultural preservation. Meanwhile, another capstone team built an open source archive of historical minority press articles to broaden historical understandings of marginalized groups. Their database incorporates optical character recognition to make millions of pages searchable which otherwise would have remained unseen in microfilm reels. These efforts help ensure diverse perspectives and bodies of knowledge do not fade from collective memories.

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Journalism and media projects also abounded. Some conceived new types of interactive storytelling combining immersive virtual reality with documentary techniques. One even used thermal imaging and air quality sensors to “embed” viewers inside smog-choked streets in order to evoke the crisis of pollution. In terms of hard news tools, a GPS-enabled crisis map application allows citizen witnesses to upload firsthand accounts, photos and videos from conflict zones which editors then verify and compile into live interactive disaster maps with embedded social media feeds. Such platforms could make eyewitness reporting more reliable and accessible during emergencies when traditional networks falter.

There are too many brilliant capstone concepts to list entirely. But these diverse examples portray some of the promising new directions in leveraging technology, from mitigating misinformation and making media accessible, to archiving hidden histories or strengthening disaster communications. Time and again, students rise to the challenge of devising pragmatic yet optimistic solutions to societal problems within media and connectivity. Their fresh perspectives offer real hope that we can build a more just, inclusive and well-informed digital future for all.

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