“For every variation in sound, pressure, temperature or electromagnetic wave, Shwetak Patel sees an opportunity. He is the master of white noise, the enemy of inefficiency. He made a name for himself with ElectriSense, a home energy monitor that reads noise to tell you how much electricity is used by each lightbulb and appliance in real time. But ElectriSense is only the beginning; there are no limits to what he and his lab might achieve.
“What drives Patel is not what can be achieved. It’s what should be achieved. And with a mind as sharp and creative as his, the ‘what ifs’ are endless: What if an app could distinguish between the sound of a regular cough and the cough of someone with Tuberculosis?
“What if you could use sonar to turn any surface (even mid-air) into a touchscreen for your device?
“What if doctors could replace a $10,000 machine with a prescription app (the first of its kind) to measure lung capacity and assess pulmonary issues at home?
“And what if a battery could charge itself by using slight variations in room temperature?
“These are just four of the more than 20 projects Patel’s lab, the University of Washington’s Ubiquitous Computation or UbiComp Lab, is currently working on.”