Boston University Engineering Team Wins First Place for Vision-Based Parking Monitor System

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 |

(Boston) — A team of four Boston University engineering undergraduates took top prize at the 5th annual IEEE Student Design Contest held at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) recently. Their project, dubbed iPark, is a low-cost, easy-to-install-and-use system for locating that most-premium of urban real estate — an empty parking spot. As first-place winners, the team members, all seniors in the BU College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will share a cash award of $5,000.

Designed for use in parking facilities at airports, universities, and possibly even parking malls, the innovative, wireless, vision-based iPark system uses commercially available digital cameras and team-developed detection, management and visualization software to both locate empty parking slots and alert parking attendants or incoming drivers of their location.

By using wireless digital cameras, the team eliminated the need to rip up concrete or structures to embed sensors or pressure plates. Their development and addition of a layer of supervisory software meant that information collected by the cameras can be fed to a central location and “mapped” with lights or other visual cues, enhancing the system’s applicability in large, complex parking structures.

The contest was sponsored by the IEEE student chapter at RIT and included teams from such schools as Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Queen’s University in Canada, and the United States Military Academy at West Point. BU team members are Ido Hochman, Ken Lopez, Mike Molé, and Patrick Ward. Faculty advisors for the group are Janusz Konrad, associate professor, and W. Clem Karl, professor, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Faculty in the College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering conduct research in areas such as photonics, signal and image processing, electronic materials and devices, high-performance computing applications, computer hardware testing and fault-tolerant design, communications networks, and software engineering.

Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the nation.