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Building an inclusive community: Takeaways from the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing

The following post was authored by Raven Avery, Assistant Director for Diversity & Outreach at the Allen School

The author with student participants at the 2018 Tapia conference

The author and students at Tapia 2018, left to right: Raven Avery, Alexandra Klezovich, Kat Wang, Nicole Riley, Esteban Posada, and Temo Ojeda.

The Allen School was well-represented at the 2018 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing last week in Orlando, with an impressive delegation of students, faculty, and alumni in attendance. This is the Allen School’s second year as a conference sponsor, and our fourth year sending students to connect with peers, explore new advances in research, and learn about how leaders in our field are working to make it more inclusive for everyone.

As the Allen School’s Assistant Director for Diversity & Outreach, it’s exciting to be in a space totally devoted to diversity in tech. It’s especially meaningful to hear the individual stories and perspectives of attendees, including our own students. These stories help us better understand the experiences of underrepresented groups in ways that numbers and data can’t represent. As undergraduate participant Temo Ojeda said, “The community that Tapia attracts is like no other: attendees, sponsors, and speakers have such a positive energy, with so many ideas to make an impact in the field.”

Tapia welcomes around 1,400 diverse computer scientists, mostly from groups that have been historically underrepresented in tech: people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and women. The conference is an opportunity to expand our perspective on what computer science is and accomplishes, with presentations ranging from an exploration of the ways technology has negatively impacted the working class to the untold stories of Black Women Ph.D.s. Nicole Riley, a student in the Allen School’s fifth-year master’s program, described the experience: “I am so glad I was able to attend a conference that emphasized intersectionality — including race, gender, disability and more — so that I felt empowered to have important conversations regarding these topics.”

In my role, I have a lot of conversations about inclusion in the Allen School. But to make real progress in increasing inclusion, it’s crucial to view our work in a broader context: to appreciate our success, share our ideas with others, and to see clearly where we can improve. As undergraduate Alexandra Klezovich put it, “The Tapia conference has a dedication to diversity that makes it clear that we have a lot more work to do at UW in terms of inclusivity.” But along with highlighting the areas we need to improve, Tapia also provides a supportive community interested in seeing us succeed. “The talks I had with attendees were so genuinely open and caring that I forgot the stress of attending, presenting, or recruiting at the conference,” Alexandra said.

Seeing our student presenters in action was the highlight of Tapia for me, and I’m incredibly proud of their work: Alexandra and Nicole presented to a crowd of about 50 people on addressing impostor syndrome. Their session inspired faculty from other universities, one of whom said she plans to create an imposter syndrome workshop for her own students. Another said she learned more from Alexandra and Nicole than from any other speaker at Tapia.

In another session, Nicole and undergraduate Siyu (Kat) Wang shared their experience creating and implementing the Allen School Student Advisory Council — once again leading audience members to share ways they plan to adapt our model for the benefit of students at their own schools. Kat described the impact of presenting at the conference this way: “Being able to share my own experience at Tapia and learn from many others is exciting, amazing, and intimidating. It’s an incredible feeling when someone comes up to you after your presentation and thanks you for the inspiration. This experience made me feel like I can make a difference in the world, and I am doing it. ”

The Allen School was well-represented by alumni and faculty throughout the conference, a testament to our long-held commitment to diversity. Professor Emeritus Richard Ladner helped shape the Tapia celebration early in its history by convincing organizers to include disability as an aspect of diversity, and he was a strong presence throughout the conference again this year, speaking to large crowds and getting name-dropped by multiple speakers for being a leader in accessible technology. Alumnus Tao Xie (Ph.D., ’05), a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, served as the conference chair, while Hakim Weatherspoon (B.S., ’99) and Shiri Azenkot (Ph.D., ’14) were featured speakers. Weatherspoon, a faculty member at Cornell University, took part in an opening night panel on the potential and risks of autonomous systems. Azenkot, a faculty member at Cornell Tech, delivered a keynote on Designing Tech for People with Low Vision.

Tapia was also a chance for the Allen School to connect with other institutions and students participating in the FLIP Alliance, an initiative aimed at diversifying Ph.D. programs and faculty at leading universities that was launched last year with support from the National Science Foundation. And this week, more than 30 students traveled to Houston for the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing — another great venue for sharing ideas and promoting diversity in our field.

For any interested Allen School students who missed the opportunity to participate in Tapia or GHC this year, keep an eye out for funding applications in late spring to join us at the 2019 events!

 

September 28, 2018

Molecular Information Systems Lab prepares DNA-based data archive for launch as part of Arch Mission’s Lunar Library

Photo of the moon and space above the curvature of the earth's surface

Photo of the moon from afar uploaded to #MemoriesInDNA. This and thousands of other images encoded in synthetic DNA will be sent to the actual moon in 2020.

The #MemoriesInDNA Project spearheaded by a team of researchers in the Molecular Information Systems Laboratory is heading for the moon. The MISL, a partnership between the University of Washington and Microsoft, is working with Twist Bioscience to encode a collection of digital artifacts in synthetic DNA to be launched into space as part of the Arch Mission Foundation’s Lunar Library. The DNA archive, which will include thousands of photos crowdsourced from people around the world in addition to a selection of books from Project Gutenberg, is scheduled to make its lunar landing in 2020.

Space adds a new dimension to the technical challenges associated with storing and retrieving vast quantities of digital data in synthetic DNA. The MISL team has already achieved a number of milestones in its work, including the development of an effective system for random access of individual data files from among millions of DNA molecules. With the Lunar Library mission, the researchers face their most extreme test yet when it comes to preserving such data from the ravages of time, temperature, and radiation. For #MemoriesInDNA (tagline: “What do you want to remember forever?”), it offers an opportunity to engage humankind in advancing digital storage technology that is out of this world.

“Sending DNA into space is a great opportunity for us to make our storage system more robust,” Allen School professor Luis Ceze told UW News. “How can we protect the DNA so that it will still be readable thousands of years into the future?”

Ceze and his collaborators have partnered with the Arch Mission Foundation to explore novel ways of packaging the data to ensure that the archive survives the extreme heat of launch and potentially millions of years in space. For example, the foundation is designing a special payload to protect the DNA, complete with instructions on how to sequence the strands and retrieve the information contained within. But even with an optimal canister design, the research team anticipates some degradation from radiation will occur. To protect their precious cargo from the cosmic rays, the researchers will build both physical and logical redundancy into the archive. The former involves adding multiple copies of the same strand of DNA, so that even as strands degrade, others containing the same data will remain intact and readable. For strands that do not remain intact, the team plans to include additional information about the data itself — the logical redundancy — that will enable someone reading it to piece together any missing data should a portion of the contents be lost.

Group photo of Molecular Information Systems Lab members in the Paul G. Allen Center on the UW campus in Seattle.

Members of the Molecular Information Systems Lab have developed a system for storing digital data in synthetic DNA. They are now working on ways to build in redundancy to protect against data loss from conditions in space.

The goal of the Arch Mission Foundation is to preserve and disseminate humankind’s most important information across time and space for the benefit of future generations. The DNA archive is the first special collection slated for inclusion in the Lunar Library, and one that the foundation hopes to grow over time into the largest repository of human knowledge encoded in DNA. Anyone on Earth can add their photo to the launch collection by uploading it via memoriesindna.com or by emailing it as an attachment to lunarlibrary@memoriesindna.com.

“With this collaboration, we show the value of human knowledge and the incredible density achieved with storing digital information in DNA,” said Microsoft senior researcher Karin Strauss, who is also an associate professor in the Allen School. “This work with Arch continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in increasingly exciting ways and remarkable directions.”

Read the Arch Mission Foundation press release here and the UW News story here.

 

September 27, 2018

UW raises its profile as a center of computer engineering education and research

UW Electrical & Computer Engineering building reflected in Drumheller FountainThe University of Washington has announced that the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) is changing its name to the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE). This name change updates the identity of one of the Allen School’s closest campus collaborators to better reflect their current teaching and research — and the growth of interest by electrical engineering students in embedded systems and other hardware-related research. The change from EE to ECE is a natural outgrowth of the evolution of the field and a reflection of the longtime partnership between the former EE department and the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

“ECE and the Allen School have a long history of collaboration when it comes to research and teaching that spans the boundary between computing and electrical engineering,” said Hank Levy, director of the Allen School and Wissner-Slivka Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. “This name change recognizes UW’s strength at the intersection of these two exciting fields, where students, faculty and alumni of both programs are shaping the future of hardware innovation and doing extraordinary work in sensors, wireless, chip design, and more.”

Eleven years ago, the two programs created the UW Experimental Computer Engineering Lab (ExCEL), an initiative to facilitate the recruitment of faculty and interdisciplinary collaboration at the intersection of their fields. The result was the hiring of outstanding joint faculty who are driving innovation at the nexus of computing and electrical engineering, including Shwetak Patel in sensing systems for energy and health, Georg Seelig in synthetic biology, Linda Shapiro in computer vision for medical applications, Joshua Smith in wireless-power and zero-power devices, and Michael Taylor in microprocessors, ASICs, and hardware design. By minimizing the barriers at the boundary of their programs, the Allen School and ECE are enabling students to participate in high-impact, cross-cutting computer engineering research.

“These top caliber faculty have attracted sought-after graduate students, which feeds the cycle of excellence, and we believe our new name will only strengthen such recruitment efforts,” said ECE chair Radha Poovendran. “The field of electrical and computer engineering has produced inventions that have changed the world and the way we live. As our department begins a new era, the opportunities for impact are endless.”

The change in name to ECE has no impact on degrees granted. The Allen School will continue to award UW’s degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, while ECE will continue to award UW’s Electrical Engineering degree.

Read the ECE announcement here.

Photo by Kathleen B. Turner/University of Washington

 

September 18, 2018

Rajalakshmi Nandakumar is living the dream as GeekWire’s Geek of the Week

View of Rajalakshmi Nandakumar's workspace from above, with laptop, monitors, and several smartphones

Nandakumar’s workspace, including the collection of smartphones used in her research.

Allen School Ph.D. student Rajalakshmi Nandakumar’s research has awakened a lot of interest in how mobile devices can be used to improve health and quality of life, from detecting signs of sleep apnea to alerting emergency services of a drug overdose.

Fresh off her selection as a Paul Baran Young Scholar by the Marconi Society, Nandakumar is featured in the latest edition of GeekWire’s Geek of the Week. In addition to fielding questions about her favorite Star Trek captain (Kirk), her favorite gadget (3D printer), and other suitably geeky pursuits, Nandakumar explained to GeekWire what motivates her to push the boundaries of what a smartphone can do.

“Often people associate wireless signals with communication,” she noted. “Though it is the primary purpose, these wireless signals we are surrounded with can also be used to enable novel applications in other domains like healthcare, human computer interaction and security.”

Check out the full article here, and read more about Nandakumar’s Young Scholar Award here.

Way to go, Rajalakshmi!

Photo by Mark Stone/University of Washington

 

September 14, 2018

Rajalakshmi Nandakumar honored with Marconi Young Scholar Award

Rajalakshmi Nandakumar

Allen School Ph.D. student Rajalakshmi Nandakumar has been recognized with a Paul Baran Young Scholar Award from the Marconi Society for her work on mobile apps capable of detecting potentially life-threatening health issues. She is the first Allen School student to receive the award, which honors outstanding early-career researchers in wireless communications and the internet. Young Scholars are selected by an international panel of engineers from industry and academia. According to internet pioneer and Marconi Society Chairman Vinton Cerf, Nandakumar represents those qualities that the organization aims to promote through the program.

“Our Young Scholar award attracts the world’s brightest young communications researchers,” he said. “Rajalakshmi embodies every characteristic that we seek—unparalleled intellectual capability, entrepreneurial spirit, and the vision to use her work to better humankind.”

Nandakumar is a researcher in the Allen School’s Networks & Mobile Systems Lab, where she works with professor Shyam Gollakota on a range of projects that leverage the increasingly sophisticated sensing capabilities of smart devices to improve health and quality of life.

Rajalakshmi Nandakumar using mobile app

“Rajalakshmi has a knack for selecting problems with high social impact,” observed Gollakota. “What’s incredible is that she has developed technology that seems like science fiction and has gotten it adopted by hundreds of thousands of people in the real world.”

Gollakota is referring to ApneaApp, a contactless smartphone app that Nandakumar developed to measure minute changes in a person’s respiration and movement during sleep. The app analyzes those measurements to detect whether a person is suffering from sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that affects more than 18 million adults in the United States alone. The condition often goes undiagnosed, as the usual methods of identifying sleep apnea involve either an expensive polysomnography test requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or sleep clinic, or the use of in-home systems that tend to have high failure rates. Taking inspiration from how bats navigate, Nandakumar turned a smartphone into an active sonar system that can be used to monitor an individual’s sleep from the comfort of their own bedroom, without any special instrumentation.

Nandakumar’s work on ApneaApp earned her the UW CoMotion Graduate Innovator Award in 2016. The technology, which was developed in collaboration with Dr. Nathaniel Watson of the UW Medicine Sleep Clinic, was subsequently licensed by ResMed, a global leader in the sleep industry. The company built the capability into its SleepScore app released earlier this summer to enable individuals to track their sleep quality and share data with their physicians.

Nandakumar chose to focus on mobile apps for health based on her experience growing up in India with a father in the healthcare industry, which exposed her to many of the issues she is trying to address through her research. She also liked the idea of working on projects that have far-reaching impact outside of the lab.

Shyam Gollakota and Rajalakshmi Nandakumar“The best part of my work is seeing real people using my technology and knowing that it benefits their well-being,” Nandakumar told the Marconi Society. “As a computer scientist, I find that very fulfilling.”

Nandakumar has since turned her attention to another pressing public health issue: the opioid epidemic. For her latest project, she is exploring how to use a smartphone and sonar to monitor a person’s condition and summon help in the event of an overdose. Around 100 people in the United States die each day from opioid use. It will be the latest in a line of projects that have sought to extend the capabilities of mobile devices beyond mere communication.

“It is rare for a graduate student to have such impact with even one application, and she is doing it time and again,” Gollakota said.

Nandakumar and her three fellow Young Scholar recipients will be formally recognized next month at the Marconi Society’s symposium in Bologna, Italy.

Read the Marconi Society’s press release recognizing Nandakumar here and the full award announcement here. Learn more about the Young Scholars program here.

Congratulations, Rajalakshmi!

Photos by Mark Stone/University of Washington

 

September 11, 2018

Thanks to the trades who are making the Gates Center a reality!

On a typical day nearly 150 tradesmen and tradeswomen are at work on the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. Every day we marvel their amazing work, and periodically we demonstrate it with a bbq lunch and special recognition for some folks who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the great culture of the team.

Today’s event was particularly special: the first event held in the atrium of the Gates Center.

Thank you Mortenson and all your subs and their people – you’re the best! And thank you LMN for an incredible design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2018

Celebrating Seattle’s sweep of this year’s major awards in computer architecture

This afternoon we celebrated an unprecedented clean sweep of the major awards at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture.

Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, UW Paul G. Allen School Ph.D. alumnus and UCSD CSE faculty member, received the Young Computer Architect Award from the IEEE Technical Committee on Computer Architecture, given annually to an individual who has completed his/her Ph.D. degree within the last 6 years and has made one or more outstanding, innovative research contributions. Hadi was honored “in recognition of outstanding contributions to novel computer architectures in emerging domains, especially in machine learning and approximate computing.”

Gabe Loh, Fellow Design Engineer with AMD Research in Seattle, received the ACM SIGARCH Maurice Wilkes Award, given annually for an outstanding contribution to computer architecture made by an individual whose computer-related professional career started no earlier than 20 years prior to the year of the award. Gabe was honored “for outstanding contributions to the advancement of die-stacked architectures.”

Susan Eggers, UW Paul G. Allen School professor emerita, received the ACM/IEEE Computer Society Eckert-Mauchly Award, the computer architecture community’s most prestigious award. Susan was recognized “for outstanding contributions to simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor sharing and coherency.”

Another indication of Seattle’s emergence as a center of information technology innovation.

August 21, 2018

Yin Tat Lee and Thomas Rothvoss honored for significant contributions in mathematical optimization

Yin Tat Lee and Thomas Rothvoss

Yin Tat Lee (left) and Thomas Rothvoss

Professors Yin Tat Lee and Thomas Rothvoss of the Allen School’s Theory of Computation group were recently recognized for significant contributions to the field of mathematical optimization. Lee, who joined the University of Washington faculty last year, received the A.W. Tucker Prize recognizing the best doctoral thesis in optimization in the past three years. Rothvoss, who holds a joint appointment in the Allen School and the Department of Mathematics, earned the Delbert Ray Fulkerson Prize recognizing outstanding papers in the area of discrete mathematics.

Lee received the Tucker Prize from the Mathematical Optimization Society for his thesis, “Faster Algorithms for Convex and Combinatorial Optimization,” completed while he was a Ph.D. student at MIT. In that paper, Lee explored how combining and improving upon existing optimization techniques such as sparsification, cutting, and collapsing could yield faster algorithms for solving a variety of problems underpinning the theory and practice of computer science. His research generated a number of substantial advancements, including faster algorithms for solving important problems in linear programming, convex programming, and maximum flow. Lee’s work was significant not only for its practical contributions, but also for its philosophical; whereas researchers historically have tended to study continuous optimization and combinatorial – or discrete – optimization in isolation, Lee recognized that the two areas share some difficulties and could benefit from some of the same techniques. His results earned him MIT’s George M. Sprowls Award for the best Ph.D. thesis in computer science in 2016.

Yin Tat Lee onstage holding his award certification, with Simge Kucukyavuz and Karen Aardal

Yin Tat Lee (left) onstage with Tucker Prize Committee chair Simge Kucukyavuz (center) and Karen Aardal, chair of the Mathematical Optimization Society

Lee’s paper was the culmination of several related lines of research that yielded faster algorithms for a variety of outstanding optimization problems — and yielded Lee and his collaborators numerous conference awards. These included Best Paper at the Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA 2014) for presenting a new algorithm for approximately solving maximum flow problems in near-linear time, and Best Student Paper and Best Paper at the Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS 2014) for a new general interior point method for solving general linear programs that represented the first significant improvement in the running time of linear programming in more than two decades. Lee and his colleagues subsequently earned Best Student Paper at FOCS 2015 for devising a faster cutting plane method for solving convex problems in near-cubic time.

Since his arrival at the Allen School, Lee has continued to push the state of the art, earning a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation to further advance his efforts to develop faster, more efficient algorithms for solving convex and other optimization problems. He recently co-authored a total of six papers accepted at the Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC 2018) — a record number of contributions from an individual researcher to the conference in a single year that addressed an array of open problems in algorithmic convex geometry, asymptotic geometric analysis, operator theory, convex optimization, online algorithms, and probability. Since last summer, he has served as co-principal investigator for the Algorithmic Foundations of Data Science Institute (ADSI), which is developing new algorithmic tools to advance the field of data science with a $1.5 million grant from NSF.

Rothvoss was recognized with the Fulkerson Prize, which is co-sponsored by the Mathematical Optimization Society and the American Mathematical Society, for his paper “The Matching Polytope has Exponential Extension Complexity.” In that work, he set out to answer an open question that is central to combinatorial optimization related to the expression of polytopes for solving linear programs. Whereas multiple authors had established that various polytopes have exponential extension complexity for NP-hard problems, Rothvoss was interested in finding out whether the same could be said for polytopes that admit polynomial time algorithms to optimize linear functions. He established that this is, indeed, the case for the perfect matching polytope — proving that linear programming cannot be used to solve the matching problem in polynomial time. It was a significant leap forward in theoreticians’ understanding of this topic, and one which revealed a significant limitation of a technique that has been extremely popular in the field of operations research.

Unnamed individual, Thomas Rothvoss, Karen Aardal, and William Cook

Thomas Rothvoss (second from left) onstage with (left to right) Fulkerson Prize Committee member Martin Grötschel, and chair Karen Aardal and vice chair William Cook of the Mathematical Optimization Society

Rothvoss was previously recognized with a Best Paper Award at STOC 2014 for the same work, which he conducted while he was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. That same year, he collected a Best Paper Award at SODA 2014 for his contribution to a new algorithm for solving the bin packing problem in polynomial time. He previously earned Best Paper at STOC 2010 for his work on an approximation algorithm for solving the Steiner tree problem — a particularly important problem in the field of network design. More recently, Rothvoss earned a 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship and a 2016 Packard Fellowship for his work at the intersection of mathematics and computer science to develop new techniques for finding approximate solutions to computationally hard problems.

Last year, Rothvoss earned an NSF CAREER Award for his efforts to design new and better approximation algorithms to address several outstanding problems in combinatorial optimization, including the directed Steiner tree, graph coloring, unique games, and unrelated machine scheduling problems. The goal is to make it more efficient to extract value from vast quantities of data, which will benefit not only computer science but the broader scientific community and a variety of industries. Like Lee, Rothvoss has developed a keen interest in bridging the gap between discrete and continuous optimization, inspired by the emergence of machine learning and massive datasets that have opened up new lines of inquiry at the intersection of those two historically divergent fields. To that end, he co-organized a series of workshops last fall at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing that brought together researchers in both communities to stimulate interaction and collaboration on areas of shared interest.

Lee and Rothvoss collected their awards at the 23rd International Symposium on Mathematical Programming (ISMP 2018) last month in Bordeaux, France. ISMP, which is held every three years, is the flagship conference for researchers working in the field of mathematical optimization.

Congratulations, Thomas and Yin Tat!

 

August 3, 2018

With ApneaApp technology from the Allen School and UW Medicine, ResMed and SleepScore Labs awaken people to the dangers of poor sleep

Left to right: Nate Watson, Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, and Shyam Gollakota

The UW team behind ApneaApp, left to right: Nate Watson, Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, and Shyam Gollakota. Photo credit: Sarah McQuate/University of Washington

More than a billion people worldwide experience problems related to sleep, which can have a significant impact on their health, productivity, and overall quality of life. In the United States alone, an estimated 25 million people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a variety of serious health issues, including hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, mood and memory problems, and more. Now, thanks to the ApneaApp technology from the University of Washington, people around the world can better understand their sleep in order to improve their health.

One of the barriers to identifying — let alone treating — apnea and other sleep-related issues has been a lack of useful data about the quality of people’s sleep. Clinical sleep studies such as the standard polysomnography test are time-consuming and expensive, while consumer sleep trackers often require the purchase of specialized hardware and can yield inaccurate or incomplete information about a person’s condition. In an attempt to put these issues to rest, Ph.D. student Rajalakshmi Nandakumar and professor Shyam Gollakota of the Allen School’s Networks & Mobile Systems Lab teamed up with Dr. Nathaniel Watson of the UW Medicine Sleep Center to create ApneaApp, which turns a smartphone into an active sonar system using the device’s built-in microphone and speakers to effectively track changes in a person’s breathing during sleep — without requiring specialized equipment or an overnight stay in a hospital or sleep clinic.

The technology behind ApneaApp was subsequently licensed by UW CoMotion to ResMed, a global leader in sleep technology and medical devices. The company forged a joint venture with SleepScore Labs to launch a new contactless sleep tracking app, the SleepScore mobile app, earlier this summer — putting the benefits of the ApneaApp technology into the hands of consumers for the first time.

“It is extremely gratifying to bring this research from the lab to the public,” Nandakumar, who was recognized with the CoMotion Graduate Innovator Award in 2016 for her work on ApneaApp, said in a press release.

The SleepScore app measures a person’s breathing by emitting inaudible sound waves from the phone. Those sound waves are then reflected back to it based on minute changes in the subject’s chest and abdominal movements. Using algorithms and signal processing techniques developed at UW, the app gauges from these reflections the subject’s stage of sleep, time to sleep, and number of awakenings throughout the night.

Michael Wren, senior director of ResMed Sensor Technologies, credited the UW researchers along with ResMed’s Ireland-based software developers and the team at SleepScore Labs for making it easy for anyone to quantify and improve their sleep. “To see and manage a key facet of your health with just your smartphone is an incredible advancement that I hope millions take advantage of,” he said.

In addition to analyzing a person’s sleep and producing a nightly SleepScore, the free version of the SleepScore app incorporates tools to support goal-setting and personalized recommendations. A premium version of the app offers additional features, including complete sleep history, analytics, and exportable data that the user can share with their physician.

“We are excited that ResMed licensed our research into transforming the smartphone into an active sonar system,” Gollakota said. “And now, through their joint venture with SleepScore Labs, they’ve launched a product that will help enable millions of people to better understand their sleep.

Read the UW CoMotion press release here, a related SleepScore Labs press release here, and the original UW News release on ApneaApp here. Download and try the SleepScore app here, and view a recent segment of The Dr. Oz Show featuring the app here.

 

July 30, 2018

With Ford grant, Taskar Center aims to expand the power of play for children of all abilities

Volunteers adapt toys at a hackathon on the University of Washington campusThe Allen School’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, working in partnership with the HuskyADAPT student organization at the University of Washington and the non-profit PROVAIL Therapy Center, has won an award as part of the 2018 Ford College Community Challenge to create a lending library of adapted toys and switches for children with diverse abilities in the Pacific Northwest. In line with the competition’s theme, “Making Lives Better,” the lending library will enable families and caregivers to borrow and trial adapted toys and equipment to ensure that they meet an individual child’s needs.

HuskyADAPT — short for Accessible Design & Play Technology — is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Taskar Center and the UW Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering focused on developing resources and infrastructure to expand access to inclusive play technology. The program has trained hundreds of students and members of the community in toy adaptation — skills that come in handy every year at the Taskar Center’s annual holiday toy hackathon.

Through HuskyADAPT, the lending library project, and other activities, the Taskar Center is working to expand toy adaptation globally through education, research, and hands-on projects.

Ford College Community Challenge logo“Play is an important part of learning, growing, and socializing as a child, but most toys are not designed with all users in mind,” said Taskar Center director Anat Caspi. “Thanks to the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund, we will be able to extend the power of play to kids who are often overlooked while improving awareness of accessibility issues and community engagement for everyone.”

Learn more about the winning C3 proposal here, and view a video about the project here. Interested in supporting toy adaptation or borrowing adapted toys? Sign up to receive updates from the Taskar Center here.

Congratulations to Anat and the entire team!

July 23, 2018

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