UW News

Department of Electrical Engineering


July 5, 2017

First battery-free cellphone makes calls by harvesting ambient power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power, which it harvests from ambient radio signals or light. It’s a major step forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones.


June 27, 2017

Brain signals deliver first targeted treatment for world’s most common movement disorder

A new closed-loop deep brain stimulation system (results at right) developed by the UW-based CNSE delivers relief from symptoms of essential tremor that cause patients hands to shake (left) as successfully as current DBS methods (middle), but using far less battery life.

For the first time, University of Washington researchers have delivered targeted treatment for essential tremor – the world’s most common neurological movement disorder – by decoding brain signals to sense when patients’ limbs are shaking.


May 25, 2017

UW engineers borrow from electronics to build largest circuits to date in living eukaryotic cells

An artist’s impression of connected CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates.

UW synthetic biology researchers have demonstrated a new method for digital information processing in living cells, analogous to the logic gates used in electric circuits. The team built the largest circuits published to date in eukaryotic cells, using DNA instead of silicon and solder.


April 3, 2017

UW security researchers show that Google’s AI tool for video searching can be easily deceived

Screenshot of Google API results after the car images are inserted into the video.

University of Washington security researchers have shown that Google’s new tool that uses machine learning to automatically analyze and label video content can be deceived by inserting a photograph periodically into videos. After they inserted an image of a car into a video about animals, for instance, the system thought the video was about an Audi.


March 1, 2017

Singing posters and talking shirts: UW engineers turn everyday objects into FM radio stations

photo of poster broadcasting music

A new technique pioneered by University of Washington engineers enables “singing” posters and “smart” clothing to send audio or data directly to your car’s radio or your smartphone by piggybacking on ambient FM radio signals.


February 28, 2017

UW security researchers show that Google’s AI platform for defeating Internet trolls can be easily deceived

photo of researchers

UW researchers have bypassed Google’s new machine learning system that aims to curb toxic comments in online discussion forums can by simply misspelling or adding unnecessary punctuation to abusive words.


February 1, 2017

New route-finding map lets Seattle pedestrians avoid hills, construction, accessibility barriers

AccessMap provides customized directions for Seattle pedestrians and wheelchair users looking to avoid hills, construction sites and other accessibility barriers. In this example, Access Map routes users trying to reach Seattle City Hall via Pike Street rather than directly up steep Seneca Street.

AccessMap – a University of Washington project spearheaded by the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology — launched a new online travel planner offering customizable suggestions for people who need accessible or pedestrian-friendly routes when getting from point A to B in Seattle.


November 3, 2016

Electrical engineering lecture series to explore compressed sensing

David Donoho

The Department of Electrical Engineering’s 2016 Lytle Lecture series will explore bridging theory and practice in compressed sensing, which has enabled speedups in medical imaging and scientific signal processing.


October 19, 2016

Popular Science picks DNA data storage project for 2016 ‘Best of What’s New’ Award

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.

A technique to store and retrieve digital data in DNA developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science’s 2016 “Best of What’s New” Awards.


September 27, 2016

Secure passwords can be sent through your body, instead of air

photo of on body system

UW engineers have devised a way to send secure passwords through the human body, instead of over the air where they’re vulnerable to hacking.


September 7, 2016

HemaApp screens for anemia, blood conditions without needle sticks

Photo of HemaApp illuminating a patient's finger

UW engineers have developed HemaApp, which uses a smartphone camera to estimate hemoglobin concentrations and screen for anemia without sticking patients with needles.


August 17, 2016

Interscatter communication enables first-ever implanted devices, smart contact lenses, credit cards that ‘talk’ Wi-Fi

photo of three devices used in experiment

“Interscatter” communication developed by UW engineers allows power-limited devices such as brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards and smaller wearable electronics to talk to everyday devices such as smartphones and watches.


July 7, 2016

UW, Microsoft researchers break record for DNA data storage

photo of researchers

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored — and retrieved — in DNA molecules by encoding, among other things, an OK Go video.


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 11, 2016

Paper gets ‘smart’ with drawn-on, stenciled sensor tags

In this example, the speed of the spinning tag on the pinwheel is mapped to onscreen graphics.

Researchers from the University of Washington, Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have created ways to give a piece of paper sensing capabilities that allows it to respond to gesture commands and connect to the digital world.


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 14, 2016

Scientists crack secrets of the monarch butterfly’s internal compass

Monarch butterflies.

Each fall, monarch butterflies across Canada and the United States turn their orange, black and white-mottled wings toward the Rio Grande and migrate over 2,000 miles to the relative warmth of central Mexico. This journey, repeated instinctively by generations of monarchs, continues even as monarch numbers have plummeted due to loss of their sole larval food…


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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 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 29, 2015

Arsenic found in many U.S. red wines, but health risks depend on total diet

A new UW study found arsenic levels in 98 percent of red wines tested exceed U.S. drinking water standards, but that health risks depend on one's total diet.

A new UW study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water. But health risks from that toxic element depend on what else a person is eating.


September 23, 2015

UW and Shanghai Jiao Tong University forge international collaboration on smart cities

Photo of memorandum signing

Leaders from the University of Washington and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), one of China’s most prestigious public research universities, signed an agreement Wednesday to work together on “smart cities” research, teaching and collaborations in their respective electrical engineering departments.


June 30, 2015

UW team programs solitary yeast cells to say ‘hello’ to one another

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker's yeast, a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms from scratch. The red yeast cells have been engineered to produce the plant hormone auxin, which "tells" the green cells to express a gene differently.

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker’s yeast — a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms or artificial organs from scratch.


June 18, 2015

Saharan silver ants use hair to survive Earth’s hottest temperatures

A Saharan silver ant offloading heat on top of dry vegetation.

An international team of researchers that includes a University of Washington electrical engineer has discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants to survive in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth.


May 7, 2015

UW researchers hack a teleoperated surgical robot to reveal security flaws

UW reseachers mounted common cyberattacks while study participants used the Raven II surgical robotic system to move rubber blocks on a pegboard.

University of Washington researchers easily hacked a next generation teleoperated surgical robot — one used only for research purposes — to test how easily a malicious attack could hijack remotely-controlled operations in the future and to make those systems more secure.


April 14, 2015

UW among select universities to use investigational Medtronic device, advance research into brain activity

Jeffrey Herron reviews a circuit board he designed to allow for wireless and mobile experiments with the Activa PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation system.

Researchers from the University of Washington have teamed up with medical device manufacturer Medtronic to use the Activa® PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system with people who have essential tremor.


March 23, 2015

UW scientists build a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

The ultra-thin semiconductor, which is about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, stretches across the top of the photonic cavity.

University of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser using a semiconductor that’s only three atoms thick. It could help open the door to next-generation computing that uses light, rather than electrons, to transfer information.


November 12, 2014

Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

Tracking camera example

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences.


September 22, 2014

New RFID technology helps robots find household objects

A PR2 robot successfully navigates to a medication bottle.

The University of Washington and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new search algorithm that improves a robot’s ability to find and navigate to tagged objects.


September 19, 2014

Reflected smartphone transmissions enable gesture control

An image showing how SideSwipe works.

University of Washington engineers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that lets users “train” their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone.


September 3, 2014

Changing temperature powers sensors in hard-to-reach places

The power harvester could be placed outside and runs off of temperature changes in the natural world.

University of Washington researchers have taken inspiration from a centuries-old clock design and created a power harvester that uses natural fluctuations in temperature and pressure as its power source.


August 27, 2014

New smartphone app can detect newborn jaundice in minutes

A demonstration of how the app set-up looks.

University of Washington engineers and physicians have developed a smartphone application that checks for jaundice in newborns and can deliver results to parents and pediatricians within minutes.


August 4, 2014

No-power Wi-Fi connectivity could fuel Internet of Things reality

A diagram of how the technology works.

University of Washington engineers have designed a new communication system that uses radio frequency signals as a power source and reuses existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide Internet connectivity to battery-free devices.


June 23, 2014

Zippy, electric micro cars coming to campus for sustainability research

Micro electric cars.

The University of Washington is one of four institutions receiving four Innova Dash all-electric micro vehicles this summer. They will be able to communicate data such as position, speed and battery charge directly to the UW’s network, which will provide the information to various research projects.


June 16, 2014

Sensor in eye could track pressure changes, monitor for glaucoma

A commercially available artificial lens implanted in an eye.

University of Washington engineers have designed a low-power sensor that could be placed permanently in a person’s eye to track hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure. The sensor would be embedded with an artificial lens during cataract surgery and would detect pressure changes instantaneously, then transmit the data wirelessly using radio frequency waves.


May 7, 2014

UW building teleoperated robots for disaster response in national challenge

The robot has a mounted camera and router to transmit the robot’s view of the scene, and built-in haptics technology allows the operator to receive force feedback from the robot.

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed telerobotics technology that could make disaster response faster and more efficient. They are working with a large team as part of the SmartAmerica Challenge, an initiative that encourages new technologies that help society in our increasingly connected world.


April 7, 2014

UW startup creates underwater robotics with a human touch

Undergraduates students work on instrumentation with the BluHaptics team.

A team of University of Washington scientists and engineers working at the Applied Physics Laboratory is creating a control system for underwater remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs. Researchers will demonstrate the technology at the SmartAmerica Challenge in Washington, D.C. in June.



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