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UW’s Shwetak Patel, Matt Reynolds, and Julie Kientz earn Ubicomp 10-Year Impact Award

Abowd, Kientz, Patel, Kay

From left: Gregory Abowd, Julie Kientz, Shwetak Patel, and Award Chair Judy Kay. Not pictured: Matthew Reynolds and Thomas Robertson.

University of Washington professors Shwetak Patel, Matt Reynolds, and Julie Kientz have been recognized with the 10-Year Impact Award at Ubicomp 2017 for the paper, “At the Flick of a Switch: Detecting and Classifying Unique Electrical Events on the Residential Power Line.” The paper, which originally earned the Best Paper Award and Best Presentation Award at Ubicomp 2007, was singled out by this year’s conference organizers for having lasting impact a decade after its original presentation.

Patel and Reynolds hold joint appointments in the Allen School and Department of Electrical Engineering. Kientz is a faculty member in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering with an adjunct appointment in the Allen School. Patel and Kientz were Ph.D. students and Reynolds was a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech when they co-authored the original paper with research scientist Thomas Robertson and professor Gregory Abowd.

The paper presents a novel approach for detecting energy activity within the home using a single plug-in sensor. The researchers applied machine learning techniques to enable the system to accurately differentiate between different electrical events, such as turning on a specific light switch or operating certain appliances. This work paved the way for a new field of research in high-frequency energy disaggregation and infrastructure mediated sensing. It also led to the creation of Zensi, a startup spun out of Georgia Tech and UW that was acquired by Belkin in 2010. Many other companies focused on home energy monitoring and automation have been formed based on the techniques first described in the winning paper.

Matt Reynolds

Matt Reynolds

This is the fifth year in a row that UW and Allen School researchers have been recognized at Ubicomp for the enduring influence of their contributions:

2016: The late professor Gaetano Borriello, UW EE Ph.D. alumnus Jonathan Lester, and collaborator Tanzeem Choudhury were recognized for their 2006 paper, “A Practical Approach to Recognizing Physical Activities.”

2015: A team that included Borriello, Ph.D. alumni Anthony LaMarca and Jeff Hightower, and Bachelor’s alumni James Howard, Jeff Hughes, and Fred Potter won for their 2005 paper, “Place Lab: Device Positioning Using Radio Beacons in the Wild.”

2014: Borriello and Hightower won for their 2004 paper, “Particle Filters for Location Estimation in Ubiquitous Computing: A Case Study.”

2013: Ph.D. alumni Don Patterson and Lin Liao, professor Dieter Fox, and then-professor Henry Kautz were recognized for their 2003 paper, “Inferring High-Level Behavior from Low-Level Sensors.”

Way to go, team!

September 14, 2017

UW CSE + EE professor Shwetak Patel to deliver NSF CISE Distinguished Lecture on mobile health

Shwetak PatelTune in Wednesday, February 15th, when UW CSE and Electrical Engineering professor Shwetak Patel will deliver a talk on the emerging role of mobile phones in health as part of the National Science Foundation’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Distinguished Lecture Series.

In his presentation, Patel will describe how he and his students in the UbiComp Lab have leveraged the increasingly sophisticated sensing capabilities of mobile phones to create palm-sized, yet powerful, health diagnostics and disease management tools. He will also share his thoughts on the critical role that computer science plays in enabling mobile health innovation and what he envisions for the future of this rapidly growing field.

Patel’s talk will begin at 11:00 am PST (2:00 pm EST). Learn more and register to watch the live stream here.

February 14, 2017

Shwetak Patel named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery

Shwetak PatelShwetak Patel, the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, today was named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. Patel is among 53 computer scientists from a dozen countries selected for recognition as a 2016 Fellow based on their outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences and practices of computing and impact on the broader community.

Selection as an ACM Fellow is one of the highest honors accorded to a computer scientist or computer engineer. Fellows are chosen by their peers and represent the top one percent of the ACM’s nearly 100,000-strong membership. Patel’s peers have chosen to recognize him at a relatively early point in his career for his “contributions to sustainability sensing, low-power wireless sensing and mobile health.”

“I’m humbled by this great honor,” said Patel. “Many of my mentors that I’ve looked up to throughout my career have been honored as ACM Fellows in the past, and it’s unreal for me to believe that I have been elected to that great group.”

Patel has directed UW CSE’s UbiComp Lab since he joined the University’s faculty in 2008. He first garnered attention in engineering and entrepreneurial circles for his work on low-power sensor systems for monitoring home energy and water usage at the appliance level, a line of research he initiated while a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech. Patel started a company, Zensi, to commercialize this research after his arrival at the UW. When Belkin acquired Zensi in 2010, he became Belkin’s Chief Scientist — a role he still occupies today — and helped the company to establish its WeMo Labs in Seattle four years later. In 2012, Patel co-founded SNUPI, a UW spin-out focused on the development of a low-power, whole-home wireless sensing platform whose product, Wally Home, was later acquired by Sears.

As mobile phones increased in popularity — with sensing capabilities that were becoming increasingly sophisticated — Patel recognized an opportunity to repurpose a technology used for communication and entertainment into a life-saving medical tool. He and his students set about developing applications that make use of a phone’s built-in microphone, camera, and other features — features that enabled Patel’s team to turn a typical smartphone into a powerful yet portable medical device that could transform health care delivery in low-resource settings.

To date, Patel and his collaborators in the UbiComp Lab, UW Medicine and other partner organizations have introduced apps to detect newborn jaundice in vulnerable infants, measure lung function in patients living with chronic respiratory illness, screen for blood diseases such as anemia, monitor blood pressure, and more.

“I’ve had a long interest in the applications of computing to areas like health — in fact, I’m just flying back from a Computing Community Consortium workshop on smart health,” Patel said. “It’s great to see my students get excited about the possibility of having real world impact with their work.”

Patel is the 20th UW CSE faculty member to be named a Fellow of the ACM, but he is not the only newly-minted Fellow with a UW CSE connection: affiliate professors Tony Hey, Senior Data Science Fellow at the UW eScience Institute, and Radia Perlman, Dell EMC Fellow, are also among the Class of 2016. Hey was honored for his leadership in high-performance computing and data science, while Perlman was recognized for her many contributions to the theory and practice of internet routing and bridging protocols. Former UW CSE professor James Landay, now a member of the computer science faculty at Stanford University, also was selected, for his contributions in human-computer interaction, with a focus on user-interface design and ubiquitous computing.

Patel’s ACM Fellowship caps off a banner year in which he also collected the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE) from U.S. President Barack Obama, received an Outstanding Collaborator Award from Microsoft Research, and earned international attention for his groundbreaking mobile health work. His courses in embedded systems, ubiquitous computing, and hardware often feature among the top-rated classes in the College of Engineering, based on student feedback. He is a past recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, TR-35 Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, and MacArthur “Genius” Award, and has graced the cover of Wired and Seattle Business magazines.

Shwetak is an exemplary teacher, researcher, and member of the CSE family. He continually wows us with his many achievements and contributions to CSE, to the University, and to communities around the globe.

Congratulations to Shwetak and to all of the newly-elected ACM Fellows!

Learn more about the ACM Fellows program here, and read the ACM press release here.

December 8, 2016

PECASE ceremony: Shwetak Patel and Luke Zettlemoyer go to (the other) Washington

Front row: Shwetak and Luke. Back row: Eleanor.

UW CSE and Electrical Engineering professor Shwetak Patel and CSE professor Luke Zettlemoyer traveled to our nation’s capital to collect their Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by our nation’s government on early career researchers in science and engineering fields.

The 106 winners named in February gathered yesterday to be recognized at ceremonies hosted by the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Today, awardees joined President Barack Obama at the White House, where Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also spoke.

Patel was nominated for the PECASE by the National Science Foundation for his work on home sensing systems to monitor electricity and water consumption. Zettlemoyer was nominated by the Department of Defense for developing new approaches to natural language processing. UW Chemistry professor David Masiello also received a PECASE through NSF for his work in the emerging field of theoretical molecular nanophotonics.

Read our earlier post on the PECASE announcement here.

Congratulations to Shwetak, Luke and David on this terrific achievement!

May 5, 2016

Watch, listen and read: UW’s Shwetak Patel and “The Human Face of Big Data”

Shwetak Patel in The Human Face of Big DataLast night the new documentary The Human Face of Big Data premiered on PBS. UW CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel contributed his expertise and insights to the film, which examines how the vast amounts of data collected in our increasingly connected world is changing the way we live and shaping our future. As big data’s big night approached, Patel and executive producer Rick Smolan joined Jeremy Hobson, host of NPR’s “Here & Now,” to talk about the anticipated benefits and potential pitfalls associated with the age of big data.

One of the benefits Patel highlighted was health care. In contrast to the traditional visit to a doctor’s office, where a patient’s vitals are taken and perhaps more tests are ordered to come up with a diagnosis, “Think about what you could do if you could collect physiological information throughout the day, and in non-invasive ways,” he suggested, “and then using artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain some interesting insights about what may happen in the future…to diagnose and predict disease before it’s too late.”

Another topic discussed by the trio was the need for transparency around what data is being collected and how it is being used. Patel agreed that it is a conversation we need to have, and that technology could help broker that. “One of the issues is that people really don’t know what’s possible with the data and what’s actually happening behind the scenes,” he said.

Although on the one hand, many people may react negatively to the concept of big data, Patel noted that they are “voting with their feet” by using the apps and services. “At the end of the day, it’s really the data analytics that’s enabled this whole technology revolution and this new paradigm,” he said.

Listen to the full interview on the NPR website, and watch clips from the documentary online courtesy of PBS. Also check out related coverage on GeekWire and the original book on which the film is based.

February 25, 2016

White House recognizes Shwetak Patel, Luke Zettlemoyer with PECASE awards

Shwetak Patel and Luke Zettlemoyer

Shwetak Patel (left) and Luke Zettlemoyer

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced today that UW CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel and UW CSE professor Luke Zettlemoyer have been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award, which is the highest honor the U.S. government bestows upon scientists and engineers in the early stage of their careers, is designed to support promising young researchers who show exceptional potential to advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge in the 21st century and demonstrate a commitment to community service.

Shwetak and Luke are among 106 scientists and engineers selected from across the country to receive this honor. From the White House press release:

“‘These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,’ President Obama said. ‘We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people….’

“This year’s recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the Intelligence Community. These departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.”

Shwetak, who directs the UW’s UbiComp Lab and is a recognized expert in sensor systems research, was nominated for a PECASE by the National Science Foundation “for inventing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensor systems that leverage existing infrastructures to enable users to track household energy consumption and make the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs.”

Luke, a member of UW CSE’s world-class Natural Language Processing group, was nominated by the Department of Defense “for his outstanding research accomplishments in computational semantics, in particular for innovative new machine learning approaches for problems in natural language understanding.”

Shwetak and Luke will be formally recognized at a White House ceremony in the spring. They join some pretty select company, including previous PECASE recipients Tom Anderson and Carlos Guestrin on the UW CSE faculty.

Read the White House press release here. Read the UW News press release here.

Congratulations, Shwetak and Luke!

February 18, 2016

Must-See TV: UW’s Shwetak Patel in “The Human Face of Big Data”

The Human Face of Big DataUW CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel of the UbiComp Lab is featured in a new documentary, “The Human Face of Big Data,” that will air on PBS next week. The award-winning film examines how our growing capacity to collect and analyze data enables us to understand our world and ourselves in new ways—and at what cost.

From the documentary’s website:

“‘The Human Face of Big Data’ captures…an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us to provide a healthier life for our children. To provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe. To help us conserve precious resources like water and energy. To alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness. To peer into our own individual genetic makeup. To create new forms of life.  And soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface…”

The filmmakers point out that more data has been generated since 2003 than in all of previously recorded history.

“It’s the data that creates understanding and knowledge,” Patel says in the PBS trailer. The film features two of his lab’s projects, ElectriSense and HydroSense, which are capable of collecting data at the individual appliance level for energy usage and water consumption, respectively.

Local station KCTS 9 and the Seattle International Film Festival have teamed up to offer a free special screening and discussion session with filmmaker Sandy Smolan tomorrow, February 17th, and the documentary premieres on PBS nationwide next Wednesday, February 24th. It will be available to stream online as of the following day, and will be broadcast internationally in 25 countries later this year.

Now that is what we call “must-see TV!”

February 16, 2016

The next paradigm of computing: UW’s Shwetak Patel and Mayank Goel featured in UW Daily

Shwetak Patel

Shwetak Patel

UW Daily reporter Arunabh Satpathy writes:

“A house that knows when you’re inside. A cellphone that doubles as a spirometer. A sensor that gauges how much energy is being consumed and by what device. These are some of the applications of a developing field of computing called ‘ubiquitous computing,’ or ‘ubicomp.’

Shwetak Patel, professor in the Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering, defines ubicomp as ‘the next paradigm of computing.’

“‘Computing is going to be pushed into everywhere into the environment,’ Patel said.”

Mayank Goel

Mayank Goel

Shwetak goes on to explain how continuous interaction between humans and sensors has transformed the automobile. He also talks about the potential benefits of extending these interactions into the home where, for example, sensors could be used to monitor the health of a person inside.

The article also quotes UW CSE Ph.D. student Mayank Goel, whose research focuses on novel uses of mobile phone sensors. One of his projects is focused on using a smart phone’s accelerometer to stabilize the keyboard and reduce texting errors. Another project, SpiroSmart, turns a smart phone’s microphone into a spirometer for measuring lung function.

Read the entire article here.

Learn more about the UbiComp Lab here.

June 5, 2015

UW Innovation Research Award to CSE’s James Fogarty, Julie Kientz, Sean Munson, Shwetak Patel

UntitledThe UW Innovation Research Award supports unusually creative early and mid-career faculty in engineering, health, natural and social sciences.

The Provost has just announced an award to team of six investigators: Shwetak Patel and James Fogarty (Computer Science & Engineering); Julie Kientz and Sean Munson (Human-Centered Design & Engineering; both are also Adjunct faculty in CSE); Jasmine Zia (UW Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology); and Roger Vilardaga (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences). They are building tools used on a mobile device that allow patients to easily enter data about habits and behaviors related to a particular health problem. These data will help extend the reach of health care beyond the clinic, making it easier for physicians to make diagnoses and treatment plans.

Go team! Read more here.

February 10, 2015

Congratulations – yet again – to Shwetak Patel

shwetak_patel-117Shwetak Patel has been appointed as the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

Shwetak’s research interests are in the areas of Human-Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, Sensor-Enabled Embedded Systems, and User Interface Software and Technology. He is particularly interested in developing new sensing technologies with an emphasis on energy monitoring and health applications for the home.

He was a founder of Zensi, Inc., a residential energy monitoring company, which was acquired by Belkin, Inc. in 2010. He is also a co-founder of SNUPI Technologies, a low-power wireless sensor company. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (2011), Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship (2011), Sloan Research Fellowship (2012), TR-35 Award (2009), World Economic Forum Young Global Scientist Award (2013), and an NSF CAREER Award (2013). He was named Top Innovator of the Year by Seattle Business Magazine, and Newsmaker of the Year by Seattle Business Journal in 2011. Earlier work was also honored by the New York Times as a top technology of the year in 2005. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, and was selected as a Seattle Shaper in 2012.

Congratulations, Shwetak. And many thanks to our friends at the Washington Research Foundation – WRF has supported UW CSE and UW as a whole in so many ways over so many years!

January 16, 2015

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