UW Today


June 23, 2016

How well do facial recognition algorithms cope with a million strangers?

photo of images in MegaFace gallery

University of Washington computer scientists have launched the “MegaFace Challenge,” the world’s first competition aimed at evaluating and improving the performance of face recognition algorithms at the million person scale.


June 21, 2016

UW-led team awarded $1M bioelectronics innovation prize

diagram of how device works

An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) based at the University of Washington is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.


May 19, 2016

Using static electricity, insect-sized flying robots can land and stick to surfaces

Image of flying insect robot

A new study co-authored by a University of Washington mechanical engineer demonstrates how flying insect-sized robots can land and stick to surfaces, which conserves energy and extends flight times.


May 17, 2016

UW team first to measure microscale granular crystal dynamics

Photo of slide showing granular crystals

UW mechanical engineers have for the first time analyzed interactions between microscale granular crystals — a first step in creating novel materials that could be used for impact mitigation, signal processing, disease diagnosis, or even making more controllable solid rocket propellants.


May 13, 2016

Proton-conducting material found in jelly that fills organs of sharks, skates and rays

Image of the ampullae of Lorenzini found in sharks, skates and rays.

The jelly found in the electrosensory organs of sharks, skates and rays is a remarkable proton-conducting material, with the highest proton conductivity ever reported for a biological material, UW researchers have found.


May 9, 2016

This five-fingered robot hand learns to get a grip on its own

This five-fingered robot hand can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation — like spinning a tube full of coffee beans — on its own, rather than having humans program its actions.

A University of Washington team of computer science and engineering researchers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation – one of the most difficult problems in robotics – but also learn from its own experience.


May 5, 2016

Two-minute warnings make kids’ ‘screen time’ tantrums worse

picture of child using computer

Giving young children a two-minute warning that “screen time” is about to end makes transitions away from tablets, phones, televisions and other technological devices more painful, a new University of Washington study has found.


May 2, 2016

New health sensing tool measures lung function over a phone call, from anywhere in the world

image of SpiroSmart being used in a Bangladesh clinic

University of Washington researchers have developed SpiroCall, a new health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function from anywhere in the world over a simple phone call.


April 27, 2016

‘Walk-DMC’ aims to improve surgery outcomes for children with cerebral palsy

Walk-DMC is a new, quantifiable measure of motor control in children with cerebral palsy. It relies on data from electromyography (EMG) shown in this demonstration, which uses electrodes to monitor muscle activity.

A UW mechanical engineer has developed a new assessment of motor control in children with cerebral palsy called Walk-DMC, which could help predict which patients are — or are not — likely to benefit from invasive surgical interventions.


April 8, 2016

UW-led research team wins $7.5M MURI grant to defend against advanced cyberattacks

photo of Radha Poovendran

A University of Washington-led research team has won a $7.5 million, five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Department of Defense to better model and mount defenses against stealthy, continuous computer hacking attacks known as “advanced persistent threats.”


April 7, 2016

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

Lee Organick, a UW computer science and engineering research scientist, mixes DNA samples for storage. Each tube contains a digital file, which might be a picture of a cat or a Tchaikovsky symphony.

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have developed one of the first complete systems to store digital data in DNA — allowing one to store data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter in a space the size of a sugar cube.


April 4, 2016

The Twittersphere does listen to the voice of reason — sometimes

WestJet tweet screenshot

In the maelstrom of information, opinion and conjecture that is Twitter, the voice of truth and reason does occasionally prevail, according to a new study from UW researchers. Tweets from “official accounts” — the government agencies, emergency responders, media or companies at the center of a fast-moving story — can slow the spread of rumors on Twitter and correct misinformation that’s taken on a life of its own.


March 15, 2016

Smartwatches can now track your finger in mid-air using sonar

Photo of FingerIO on phone

A new sonar technology developed by University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers allows you to interact with mobile devices and smartwatch screens by writing or gesturing on any nearby surface — a tabletop, a sheet of paper or even in mid-air.


March 8, 2016

Family technology rules: What kids expect of parents

family photo

A new UW study is among the first to explore children’s expectations for parents’ technology use — revealing kids’ feelings about fairness and “oversharing,” the most effective types of household technology rules and families’ most common approaches.


February 29, 2016

Doctor, patient expectations differ on fitness and lifestyle tracking

Image of phones with running apps

With apps and activity trackers measuring every step people take, morsel they eat, and each symptom or pain, patients commonly arrive at doctor’s offices armed with self-tracked data. Yet health care providers lack the capacity or tools to review five years of Fitbit logs or instantaneously interpret data patients have been collecting about themselves, according to new UW research.


NASA data used to track groundwater in Pakistan

Picture of groundwater fieldwork

Pakistan’s water managers are using NASA satellites to more effectively monitor groundwater supplies, thanks to a partnership with UW civil and environmental engineers. It’s part of a larger effort to use the vast amount of data and observations collected by Earth-orbiting satellites to better quality of life in developing countries.


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


February 24, 2016

Clean, efficient cookstoves from UW-industry partnership to be manufactured in Kenya

Photo of woman testing stove in Kenya

A more efficient and clean wood-burning cookstove — developed by Vashon Island’s BURN Design Lab and UW mechanical engineers — will reduce the amount of fuel families need to collect or buy by 55 percent. It will also reduce exposure to the harmful particulate pollution produced by traditional cooking flames.


February 23, 2016

UW engineers achieve Wi-Fi at 10,000 times lower power

UW computer scientists and electrical engineers have generated "passive" Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power.

With “Passive Wi-Fi,” UW computer scientists and electrical engineers have generated Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power than conventional methods. The system can transmit Wi-Fi signals at rates up to 11 megabits per second — lower than maximum Wi-Fi speeds but 11 times faster than Bluetooth — that can be decoded on any of the billions of devices with Wi-Fi connectivity.


February 8, 2016

UW’s Tom Anderson elected to National Academy of Engineering

Tom Anderson portrait

Tom Anderson, a University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering and alumnus, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Also elected are UW civil engineering alumnus Jon Magnusson and computer science alumnus Albert Greenberg.


February 4, 2016

‘On-ramping’ paves the way for women scientists, engineers to return to academia

Photo of on ramp

Pursuing scientific or engineering careers in industry, government or private research after getting a Ph.D. used to be considered a one-way ticket out of academia. But new UW research finds numerous benefits — to students, researchers and academic institutions looking to diversify their faculty — in making that return trip easier.


January 25, 2016

New handheld, pen-sized microscope could ID cancer cells in doctor’s offices and operating rooms

Microscope photo

UW mechanical engineers are developing a handheld microscope to help doctors and dentists distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells in an office setting or operating room.


January 20, 2016

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensing from mobile devices may help improve bus service

bus photo

UW transportation engineers have developed an inexpensive system to sense Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from bus passengers’ mobile devices and collect data to build better transit systems.


January 19, 2016

This smartphone technology 3-D maps your meal and counts its calories

NutriRay 3D

A new laser mapping technology and smartphone app developed by University of Washington electrical engineers allows you to point your phone at a plate of food and get an estimate of the total calories and nutrition.


January 12, 2016

UW computer scientists to make financial products better and more available for the poor

Photo of mPesa outlet

UW computer scientists, with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are launching a new research group to develop technological solutions that will make financial products more available to the lowest-income people around the world.


January 6, 2016

What motivates people to walk and bike? It varies by income

New University of Washington research finds different factors in the built environment motivate higher-income and lower-income people to walk and bike.

The built environment influences decisions to walk or bike differently for lower- and higher-income groups, UW researchers have found. Neighborhood density, accessible destinations and fewer vehicles were associated with more walking and biking in lower-income groups, while neighborhood attractiveness was relevant for higher-income groups.


December 28, 2015

UW center receives $16M to work on first implantable device to reanimate paralyzed limbs

Photo of CSNE researchers

The UW’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering has won a $16M NSF grant to develop the first implantable device to reanimate paralyzed limbs and restore motor function in stroke or spinal cord injury patients.


December 15, 2015

Fuel economy improvements in US climate commitment on par with 1970s gains

Photo of 1970s Datsun ad

A new UW study finds that fuel efficiency improvements needed to meet U.S. climate commitments are on par with what the auto industry delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.


December 7, 2015

What makes Tom Hanks look like Tom Hanks?

UW researchers reconstructed have 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from  Internet photo collections. The models can be controlled by photos or videos of another person.

UW researchers have reconstructed 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from large Internet photo collections. The model can deliver speeches that the real actor never performed – one step toward developing fully interactive digital personas of people from family or historic photo collections.


December 1, 2015

UW roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

photos of gaze experiments

A collaboration between University of Washington developmental psychologists and computer scientists has demonstrated that robots can “learn” much like babies – by experiencing the world and eventually imitating humans.


November 18, 2015

Popular Science names ‘Power Over Wi-Fi’ one of the year’s game-changing technologies

Photo of device

The Power Over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi) system developed by UW engineers is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science, which included it in the magazine’s annual “Best of What’s New” awards announced this week.


November 16, 2015

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time

Photo of crystal

Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve always given off heat. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle — figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids.


November 2, 2015

UW to co-lead West Coast ‘Big Data brain trust’ for NSF

Logo_eScience-stacked (002) copy

The National Science Foundation has selected the University of Washington, along with the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Berkeley, to co-lead one of four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs around the country.


October 29, 2015

Nov. 5 bioengineering lecture focuses on ‘Engineering Personalized Medicine’

We have personal trainers and tailored suits. Why don’t we have personalized medicine? That question — and the prospects for stem-cell-based treatments that reverse disease and repair damage rather than simply addressing symptoms — will be the focus of the University of Washington’s Department of Bioengineering’s 2015 Allan S. Hoffman Lecture on Nov. 5. Molly…


October 23, 2015

From cell phones to DNA: Electrical engineering lectures explore information theory

The Science of Information: From Pushing Bits over the Air to Assembling the World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle Monday, Nov. 2, 3:30 p.m. Paul G. Allen Center Atrium Information theory is the science behind the engineering of all modern-day communication systems and also has surprising applications far beyond communication. Stanford University professor David Tse will focus…


October 22, 2015

New UW model helps zero in on harmful genetic mutations

gene splicing illustration

By more accurately predicting how variations in DNA sequences affect gene splicing, a new UW model and publicly available Web tool can help narrow down which genetic mutations cause disease and which have little effect on a person’s health.


October 16, 2015

Engineering career center opens to connect students, employers

The Career Center @ Engineering — a new career center focused on the needs of University of Washington engineering students and employers looking to hire them — has opened its doors in the basement of Loew Hall. The new center offers a full range of career services for engineering students: honing resume-writing and interviewing skills…


October 15, 2015

Affordable camera reveals hidden details invisible to the naked eye

Compared to an image taken with a normal camera (left), HyperCam images (right) reveal detailed vein and skin texture patterns that are unique to each individual.

Peering into a grocery store bin, it’s hard to tell if a peach or tomato or avocado is starting to go bad underneath its skin. A new affordable hyperspectral camera technology developed by UW and Microsoft Research uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to “see” beneath surfaces and capture hidden details.


September 30, 2015

Engineering lecture series focuses on privacy in the age of smart technology

In the age of “smart” technology, the devices we use ­— from phones that enable banking and shopping to personal robots and driverless cars — will leave a trail sharing who we are, where we go and what we consume. Over the next month, the University of Washington College of Engineering’s fall lecture series will…


3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

Carved ear models

A UW otolaryngology resident and bioengineering student have used 3-D printing techniques to create lifelike models to help aspiring surgeons – who currently practice on soap, apples, and vegetables – learn to perform ear reconstruction surgeries.



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