Davon Prewitt doesn’t like computer screens. This might sound a bit strange for a computer science (CS) major, but Prewitt has been marching to his own beat for quite some time.
Prewitt is a graduate of Columbus High School (CHS) in Columbus, Georgia, and a third-year CS major at Georgia Tech where he studies how people interact with technology.
“I wanted to do artificial intelligence research when I started at Tech, but I quickly realized that my passions lie with the bridge between computing and humans. I really think the interface between the two should be more natural,” said Prewitt.
Hence his disdain for computers screens. “They are really distracting.”
Prewitt’s vision is to create an augmented reality using a camera-based interface mounted in eyeglasses, placed in a work environment, or placed in open public spaces.
In high school, Davon Prewitt was selected for the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, which performed in the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
To prove his point, Prewitt undertook a personal project early in his college career to develop a way to control the music app Spotify using a camera. He started with a video camera module and ran an off-the-shelf computer library that allows the camera input to be read. With this, he was able to have the system identify his hand movements, connecting different gestures to different actions within the app.
“Using cameras in work environments will allow people to move around and interact with the computer in a much more natural way. It sounds expensive, but the cost of standard definition camera modules is actually pretty low,” said Prewitt.
Big data, big impact
Although he’s passionate about human-computer interaction, it is certainly not Prewitt’s only interest. The former high school marching band saxophonist is also the vice president of the Georgia Tech Big Data Club.
According to Prewitt, the club has been around for about five years and mostly lecture based. Now, there is more of a focus on projects and community impact.
To this end, the Big Data Club has taken on a route optimization project for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). To complete the analysis, they have been given access to proprietary MARTA data and will combine it with U.S. Census data to visualize potential improvements to MARTA bus routing.
“We want to make a bigger impact on Atlanta as a whole and we thought it would be good to tackle a problem that we see, so we reached out to MARTA and they said, ‘Hey, this is an issue and we’d be down for you to work on it,’” Prewitt said.
An eye toward the future
Prewitt is having an impact on the College, as well. Elected last year, he serves as one of two undergraduate student government association (SGA) representatives for the College. He has worked with parking and transportation services, helped get the League of Legends legislation passed, and he secured SGA funding for a tournament in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building.
This experience may serve him well after graduation. Along with wanting to work for a company that aims to use computing to improve people’s lives, Prewitt is interested in politics.
“I’m really interested in becoming a U.S. Senator at some point. We don’t have many technical people within in the U.S. Senate, but I think having more of those voices will help ensure they make more informed decisions down the line,” said Prewitt.
Strike up the band
Beyond school, Prewitt is also very passionate about music. He began playing saxophone around 2008 and by 2013 he was a proud sophomore member of the CHS Blue Devil Marching Band.
Although he never thought he would make it, that same year Prewitt decided to audition for the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, which would perform in the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
He told his hometown newspaper at the time, “Originally, I just auditioned for fun, playing George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” He must have done well. Prewitt was one of only 184 high school performers selected from across the U.S.
Although he doesn’t have time to play much anymore, Prewitt says he feels now as he did then.
“To succeed, you have to take every opportunity and exploit it. I always try to put my best work into things, always try to see what’s there and if I can leverage that to be better.”