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UW CSE’s Hanchuan Li and Alex Mariakakis win Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship

Hanchuan Li and Alex Mariakakis outside Qualcomm headquarters

UW CSE Ph.D. students Hanchuan Li and Alex Mariakakis are one of eight teams selected to receive a 2016 Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship. They won one of these coveted awards with their proposal for IDCam, a hybrid RFID-computer vision system that enables simultaneous localization and identification for individuals and objects that will increase our understanding of how people interact with the physical world.

IDCam observes how RFID tags instrumented on everyday objects are disturbed by their motion, and then correlates that information with visual motion information. The team envisions a variety of potential applications for the system. For example, retailers could use IDCam to observe the identity and location of merchandise with which their customers interact in their stores in order to gain a deeper understanding of people’s preferences and behaviors.

The Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship program recognizes and supports graduate students engaged in research that advances futuristic ideas and embodies the company’s values of innovation, execution and partnership. Each winning team receives a $100,000 fellowship and mentoring by Qualcomm engineers, and the competition is fierce: this year, 129 teams submitted proposals, of which 34 were selected as finalists and invited to present their ideas at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego.

Li and Mariakakis were nominated by CSE and Electrical Engineering professor Shwetak Patel, who leads the UbiComp Lab, and former CSE postdoc Alanson Sample at Disney Research.

UW CSE students have done very well in this competition in recent years, including past winners Carlo del Mundo and Vincent Lee (2015), Vincent Liu (2014, with EE student Vamsi Talla), and Thierry Moreau and Adrian Sampson (2013).

Way to go, Alex and Hanchuan!