Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UTD announces official opening of their TI Innovation Lab

The University of Texas, Dallas (UTD) announced the official opening of their new Texas Instruments Innovation Lab (Texas Instruments Supports Innovative Research with New Lab).  The 1100-square-foot facility will be a place for students and faculty in engineering and computer science to develop electronic and electromagnetic solutions for a variety of engineering problems. The TI lab is located within the UTDesign Studio. It will be used for academic classes, independent and collaborative student projects and workshops taught by TI staff. The TI workshops will focus on how to design well-rounded products that account for reliability, cost savings, product size and harsh environments. 

The official opening included a demonstration of new technology developed by TerraSwarm PI and UTD associate professor Roozbeh Jafari and his students whereby an electrode-studded glove worn by a student communicating with sign language was translated onto a computer screen.  It’s a promising new technology that may one day help the hearing impaired communicate more easily.
To read the announcement in full, go to: Texas Instruments Supports Innovative Research with New Lab.

TerraSwarm Teams are Top Performers at Microsoft Indoor Localization Competition

Microsoft held an Indoor Localization Competition at IPSN 2015 / CPS week in Seattle.  The goal of the competition was to bring together real-time or near real-time indoor location technologies and compare performance.  Submissions were divided into two categories: infrastructure-based, ie. systems that need to deploy custom hardware (30 submissions) and infrastructure-free (17 submissions). Two of the top four teams that competed were TerraSwarm performers (CMU and UMich). 

In the Infrastructure-based category, CMU fielded the top team (“ALPS: AN Ultrasonic Localization Systems”, Lazik et al.), beating out 29 other competitors. The University of Michigan placed third (“Exploring State of the Art Commercial Localization”, Campbell et. al.).

For more information about the competition, including a slide deck of final results and the full evaluation data, go to:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Next Generation of Computers: The Michigan Micro Mote

TerraSwarm PIs David Blaauw and Prabal Dutta and others in EECS at the University of Michigan continue to be in the news for their development of the Michigan Micro Mote (M3), the world's smallest computer-- also known as microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) or "Smart Dust". Once the University of Michigan's licensing office approves them, the blueprints for these tiny 'motes' will be released to M3's mbus.io website and hundreds of motes will be disseminated for trials, allowing researchers and companies around the world to figure out new ways to use these mini-computer sensing devices in innovative applications.  

Energyharvestingjournal.com describes these tiny computers in their article The smallest autonomous computer:
With the M3, engineers at Michigan are the first to accomplish energy neutrality via indoor energy harvesting in a wireless system of its size. The M3 is a fully autonomous computing system that acts as a smart sensing system. Each mote contains solar cells that power the battery with ambient light, including indoor rooms with no natural sunlight, allowing the computers to run perpetually. 
There are currently three different systems in the M3 family, focusing on several different applications: sensing temperature, pressure, and taking images.   The Michigan Micro Mote is built in stacked layers which are able to communicate through a specially-designed universal interface protocol called MBus. By simply exchanging one layer with another, a new sensing system is achieved. The current pinnacle of the project is an imaging system that packs visual imaging, ultra-low power motion detection, wireless communications, battery, power management, solar harvesting, processor and memory into a package measuring a mere 2 x 4 x 4mm3. 

To learn more about these tiny computers, their potential applications or about the history of the development of MEMS/ Smart dust, read the following articles:

Vijay Kumar and Rahul Mangharam at UPenn comment on the Internet of Things

Vijay Kumar and Rahul MangharamTerraSwarm PIs and Professors of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, recently discussed the Internet of Things in an article in the Daily Pennsylvanian (Pennscholars lead development of the Internet of Things). 

Kumar, the incoming Dean for the Engineering school at UPenn, was quoted:
“The Internet of Things today is a lot about Fitbits and Apple watches.  But tomorrow it will be the things that run homes [and] schools, reason about the world, take actions, and we will interact with them at a very high level.”
According to UPenn faculty member Rahul Mangharam:
Now wearables are so personal and intimate and they try and work with your life. You have to have a very good understanding of human behavior — what a human wants and needs — and be able to design that.”
Mangharam, Kumar and other UPenn faculty member have been involved with the Penn xLAB, which officially opened this past summer. The xLAB team has been working on several products, including interactive Legos that hook up to a TV to allow a child to interact with his or her toy as well as an immersive yoga mat. 

Mangharam is quoted in the article:
“Each company is interpreting the Internet of Things in their own way.  This is how computing was in the '70s and now it’s coming back to that — like Apple products only work with Apple.”
Cisco predicts that at least 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, so this area of technological advancement is one that will quickly emerge in future society and may spark more policy questions related to the safety and privacy of the Internet.

To read the entire article, go to: Penn Scholars Lead Development of the Internet of Things.