Monday, August 8, 2016

Apple Buys TerraSwarm PI Carlos Guestrin's Startup Turi

Turi, an artificial intelligence startup founded by TerraSwarm PI Carlos Guestrin, has been acquired by Apple. News of the purchase appeared in several articles including the Wall Street Journal's, "Apple Buys Machine-Learning Startup Turi" and Geek Wire's "Exclusive: Apple acquires Turi in major exit for Seattle-based machine learning and AI startup."

Turi enables companies to make sense of data, offering a software platform that helps them develop and manage applications with machine learning capabilities. It allows developers to detect fraud, create recommendation engines, analyze customer data, and target potential customers.

Carlos Guestrin, the Associate Professor of Machine Learning at the Computer Science and Engineering Department of the University of Washington, founded Turi in 2013. Formerly GraphLab and Dato, the startup adopted it's current name in July. The name is a reference to software creation techniques that rely on computers making inferences from data to essentially teach themselves without specific instructions.

Apple uses machine learning in predicting word completion in messages, photo facial recognition, and applications such as Siri. It's acquisition of Turi is seen as part of a larger push by Apple into artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Friday, August 5, 2016

First Dust-Sized Wireless Sensors Built by TerraSwarm PIs Jose Carmena, Michel Maharbiz, and Jan Rabaey

An August 3, 2016 news article, "Sprinkling of neural dust opens door to electroceuticals," reports that a team of University of California, Berkeley engineers including TerraSwarm PIs Jose Carmena, Michel Maharbiz, and Jan Rabaey have developed the first dust-sized, wireless, implantable sensors. Measuring 1 millimeter cube, the sensors are approximately the size of a grain of sand. The batteryless sensors use ultrasound as both a power source and to communicate results, overcoming one of the major challenges to this type of technology. Unlike radio waves, ultrasound vibrations can penetrate most of the human body, and is already widely used in healthcare settings. This opens the possibility for applications deep within the body.  Piezoelectric crystal is used to convert ultrasound vibrations from outside the body into the electricity needed to power the device's on-board transistor, which is in contact with nerve or muscle fiber. Changes in the voltage of the fiber alters the circuit of the device causing variation in the echo picked up by the ultrasound receiver.

Applications include real time monitoring and stimulation of internal organs, muscles, or nerves. This technology opens the door to new diagnostic and treatment of a wide range of conditions including epilepsy, inflammation, and paralysis. Compared to currently available implantable electrodes that require wires to be passed externally, these sensors are sealed in the body decreasing the likelihood of infection and accidental displacement. The researchers are currently working on building sensors using biocompatible thin films, which would allow the sensors to function in the body for a decade or more without degradation. Future work includes developing even smaller sensors.

Monday, August 1, 2016

TerraSwarm PI Richard Murray Named to Defense Innovation Advisory Board

TerraSwarm PI Richard Murray has been appointed by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board. As reported in the July 29, 2016 article "Caltech's Richard Murray Named to Department of Defense Panel on Innovation," the panel is composed of fifteen members. It was established in March with a mandate to provide independent advice to department leaders on innovative and adaptive ways to meet future organizational challenges with the goal of quickly identifying solutions to DoD problems. It includes innovators and scholars with expertise in new technologies and organizational behavior, and represents a commitment to ongoing private public partnerships.

TerraSwarm PI Richard Murray is the Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control & Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering at California Institute of Technology. He is an expert in systems and control engineering, including leading a recent AFOSR-sponsored MURI on specification, design and verification of distributed embedded systems. His appointment to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board was announced on July 26th by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at the opening of Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Boston. With work beginning this summer, the panel is scheduled to provide initial recommendations to the secretary in October.

Friday, July 29, 2016

TerraSwarm PI Pieter Abbeel Working With Non-Profit OpenAI

A July 25, 2016 article by Popular Mechanics,"The Robot Maid of the Future Might Teach Itself How to Do Chores," reports that TerraSwarm PI Pieter Abbeel is working with the non-profit artificial intelligence research company OpenAI on teaching robots to learn how to complete common household tasks.  OpenAI hopes to use deep learning to enable robots to train themselves to complete manual tasks. This process has the potential to increase robots' ability to adapt to constantly changing real world environments, and substantially decrease the amount of robotic programming needed in the future.

PI Pieter Abeel brings his experience with robot learning and deep reinforcement learning to the project. Last year his research group successfully used algorithms to enable a robot to complete several simple tasks using a process of trial and error. Cited as a major milestone in AI, the process developed by PI Pieter Abeel's team more closely approximates how humans learn.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Resarch Team Develops Tiny Computer with Enormous Potential

A July 15, 2016 article"Tiny Computer Has Enormous Potential," covers the work of University of Michigan Researchers including TerraSwarm PI David Blaauw and TerraSwarm PI Prabal Dutta. The article reports on the team's work developing the Michigan Micro Mote, an energy efficient computer built on a cubic millimeter scale. Outfitted with sensors for temperature, pressure, and imaging, this computer is able to network with other Michigan Micro Motes with a range of 2 meters.

The computers are built in layers using a Phoenix processor. With a standby power consumption of about 2nA, the Michigan Micro Mote is able to power its battery using artificial, ambient light and a 1mm2 photovoltaic cell. The solar module also serves as the mechanism to program the machine through a pattern of flashing light. Possible applications for these micro computers include medical devices, environmental monitoring, and surveillance. Going forward the research team hopes to increase the communication range for the Michigan Micro Mote and continue work on developing even smaller machines.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

TerraSwarm PI Jan Rabaey Serves as Electrical Engineering Division Chair

TerraSwarm PI Jan Rabaey has been appointed as Electrical Engineering Division Chair, EECS UC Berkeley as of July 1, 2016.  This is the second time he will serve as Electrical Engineering Division Chair, having previously held the position from 1999-2002.  Jan Rabaey is the principal investigator for the Human Intranet project. He holds the Donald O. Pederson Distinguished Professorship in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the scientific co-director of the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC), as well as the founding director of the Berkeley Ubiquitous SwarmLab. His research interests include the conception and implementation of next-generation integrated wireless systems. This includes the analysis and optimization of communication algorithms and networking protocols, the study of low-energy implementation architectures and circuits, and the supporting design automation environments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TerraSwarm PI Ana Claudia Arias Serves as Advisor on Pan-European Collaborative Research Project

TerraSwarm PI Ana Claudia Arias will serve as a US Advisor on a five-million Euro pan-European collaborative research project to create new low cost, light weight, wearable devices by developing new organic semiconductor materials that can be printed on flexible film.  Funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, EXTended Model of Organic Semiconductors (EXTMOS) will use a new approach to develop the next generation of devices for the Internet of Things. Led by the University of Bath, the collaborative project includes twelve European academic and industrial partners. Possible applications include medical sensors, flexible displays, and low energy diffuse lighting.

According to her website, Ana Claudia Arias received her PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge, UK before joining the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include the use of electronic materials processed from solution in flexible electronic systems. She uses printing techniques to fabricate flexible large area electronic devices and sensors. She is a co-investigator on the TerraSwarm HumanIntranet Project, a two-year project to develop a first-generation Human Intranet intended to boost human input-output performance as an open, scalable, form fitting platform.