UW News


June 17, 2020

Is the air getting cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

San Francisco at sunset

Using air quality data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors across the U.S., a UW-led team looked for changes in two common pollutants over the course of 2020.


April 22, 2020

A contact-tracing app that helps public health agencies and doesn’t compromise your privacy

A person on a train looking at their phone. Other people are on their phones behind that person.

Researchers from the University of Washington and UW Medicine, along with volunteers from Microsoft, have developed a new contact-tracing app called CovidSafe.


April 16, 2020

‘Hands-on’ classes online? How some instructors are adapting to a new teaching environment

A postal service box with lab materials inside

When the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, instructors across campus faced a new, uncharted challenge.


April 14, 2020

How families can use technology to juggle childcare and remote life

A child in front of a laptop.

UW researchers are beginning a national study to help families discover technology that helps them both successfully navigate home-based learning and combat social isolation.


April 13, 2020

UW’s 3D printed COVID-19 face shields: From innovation to delivery

face masks

When the first U.S. COVID-19 patient emerged in Washington, UW Medicine, as the state’s foremost provider of advanced medical care, was thrust into the role of trailblazer. Its clinicians and researchers have since mustered a speedy and sometimes ingenious response.


‘I saw you were online’: How online status indicators shape our behavior

A closeup of a hand holding a phone

After surveying smartphone users, UW researchers found that many people misunderstand online status indicators but still carefully shape their behavior to control how they are displayed to others.


March 31, 2020

UW researchers need your (digital) coughs

A photo of the front of the Gates Center

UW researchers are developing an app that will allow health organizations to monitor coughs from self-quarantined COVID-19 patients from home.


March 18, 2020

How people investigate — or don’t — fake news on Twitter and Facebook

A Facebook post that shows a picture of a crazy cloud formation over Sydney. The text above the picture says "A friend posted this pic of last night's storm in Sydney. Think there might be a craft in there somewhere?"

UW researchers watched 25 participants scroll through their Facebook or Twitter feeds while, unbeknownst to them, a Google Chrome extension randomly added debunked content on top of some of the real posts.


March 17, 2020

Survey: What blocks your bus?

A King County Metro bus in Seattle.

UW researchers are inviting the public to share their experiences on their regular commutes in a survey.


March 2, 2020

Navigating the potential pitfalls of tracking college athletes

A close up of a hand holding oars. On the person's wrist is a fitness tracker

UW researchers interviewed 22 athletes and staff members from three college athletics programs to see how collecting data from college athletes might encroach on their autonomy.


February 18, 2020

Simple, fuel-efficient rocket engine could enable cheaper, lighter spacecraft

A rocket takes off

UW researchers have developed a mathematical model that describes how rotating detonation engines work.


February 13, 2020

Hydropower dams cool rivers in the Mekong River basin, satellites show

A river in the foreground while children run on the beach in the background

Using 30 years of satellite data, UW researchers discovered that within one year of the opening of a major dam in the Mekong River basin, downstream river temperatures during the dry season dropped by up to 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C).


February 3, 2020

The one ring — to track your finger’s location

A close up of the ring with the wristband in the background

UW researchers have created AuraRing, a ring and wristband combination that can detect the precise location of someone’s index finger and continuously track hand movements.


January 22, 2020

What’s in Puget Sound? New technique casts a wide net for concerning chemicals

A researcher works in a chemical hood

Using a new “non-targeted” approach, UW and UW Tacoma researchers screened samples from multiple regions of Puget Sound to look for potentially harmful compounds that might be present.


December 4, 2019

Warmer temperatures will increase arsenic levels in rice, study shows

closeup of rice grains on rice plants

UW researchers have found that warmer temperatures, at levels expected under most climate change projections, can lead to higher concentrations of arsenic in rice grains.


December 2, 2019

Carpentry Compiler helps woodworkers design objects that they can actually make

A wooden birdhouse

UW researchers have created Carpentry Compiler, a digital tool that allows users to design woodworking projects. Once a project is designed, the tool creates optimized fabrication instructions based on the materials and equipment a user has available.


November 20, 2019

Emissions from electricity generation lead to disproportionate number of premature deaths for some racial groups

A coal power plant in West Virginia.

UW researchers have found that air pollution from electricity generation emissions in 2014 led to about 16,000 premature deaths in the continental U.S. In many states, the majority of the health impacts came from emissions originating in other states.


November 4, 2019

Single discrimination events alter college students’ daily behavior

Five hands making fists in a circle. All arms have black Fitbit trackers on them.

UW researchers aimed to understand both the prevalence of discrimination events and how these events affect college students in their daily lives. Over the course of two academic quarters, the team compared students’ self-reports of unfair treatment to passively tracked changes in daily activities, such as hours slept, steps taken or time spent on the phone.


October 29, 2019

Popular third-party genetic genealogy site is vulnerable to compromised data, impersonations

A hand holding a tube in front of a 23andMe kit

UW researchers have found that the third-party genealogy site GEDmatch is vulnerable to multiple kinds of security risks.


October 15, 2019

First smart speaker system that uses white noise to monitor infants’ breathing

A baby in a basket in a living room

UW researchers have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement.


October 7, 2019

How bike sharing in Seattle rose from the ashes of Pronto’s failure

Docked Pronto bikes along Seattle's waterfront

University of Washington transportation researchers looked into why the docked bike-share program Pronto failed while dockless bike sharing has been so successful.


September 16, 2019

Americans would rather drive themselves to work than have an autonomous vehicle drive them, study says

A traffic jam on a huge freeway at night

Are you willing to ride in a driverless car? Researchers at the University of Washington studied how Americans’ perceived cost of commute time changes depending on who’s driving.


August 20, 2019

New tools to minimize risks in shared, augmented-reality environments

A person holding up an iPad that shows a digital world over the real world.

UW security researchers have created ShareAR, a toolkit that lets developers build collaborative and interactive features into AR apps without sacrificing their users’ privacy and security.


August 19, 2019

How ergonomic is your warehouse job? Soon, an app might be able to tell you

A factory ceiling with low hanging lights

Researchers at the UW have used machine learning to develop a new system that can monitor factory and warehouse workers and tell them how ergonomic their jobs are in real time.


July 29, 2019

Stressed at school? Art therapy reduces teenage girls’ headaches

hands paining with watercolors

In a pilot study led by the UW, researchers explored art-based mindfulness activities that schools could use to reduce headaches, a common side effect of stress in adolescent girls. After three weeks of twice-weekly mindfulness and art therapy sessions, eight teenage girls reported experiencing significantly fewer headaches.


July 1, 2019

How you and your friends can play a video game together using only your minds

UW researchers created a method for two people help a third person solve a task using only their minds.


June 19, 2019

‘Alexa, monitor my heart’: Researchers develop first contactless cardiac arrest AI system for smart speakers

An Amazon Alexa lights up

UW researchers have developed a new tool to monitor people for cardiac arrest while they’re asleep — all without touching them. The tool is essentially an app for a smart speaker or a smartphone that allows it to detect the signature sounds of cardiac arrest and call for help.


June 11, 2019

Behind the magic: Making moving photos a reality

Picasso's "Niña con corona y barco" steps out of the frame

UW researchers have figured out how to take a person from a 2D photo or a work of art and make them run, walk or jump out of the frame. The system also allows users to view the animation in three dimensions using augmented reality tools.


May 24, 2019

Origami-inspired materials could soften the blow for reusable spacecraft

a hand pointing to the paper model

University of Washington researchers used the paper folding art of origami to develop a novel solution to help reduce the forces associated with impact — like in car crashes, football helmets, landing spacecraft and more.


May 16, 2019

Children describe technology that gives them a sense of ambiguity as ‘creepy’

a small girl touches a robot's hand

University of Washington researchers have defined for the first time what children mean when they say technology is “creepy.”


May 15, 2019

First smartphone app that can hear ear infections in children

a smartphone displaying the app

Researchers at the UW have created a new smartphone app that can detect fluid behind the eardrum by simply using a piece of paper and the phone’s microphone and speaker.


April 29, 2019

Patterns of compulsive smartphone use suggest how to kick the habit

A group of people looking at their phones

UW researchers conducted in-depth interviews to learn why we compulsively check our phones.


April 18, 2019

Project Sidewalk helps users map accessibility around Seattle, other cities

Project Sidewalk logo

UW researchers have led the development of Project Sidewalk, an online crowdsourcing game that lets anyone with an internet connection use Google Street View to virtually explore neighborhoods and label curb ramps, missing or rough sidewalks, obstacles and more.


April 8, 2019

Water and wastewater disinfection can help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but what about their genes?

vials exposed to UV light

A UW team tested how well current water and wastewater disinfecting methods affect antibiotic resistance genes in bacterial DNA. While these methods work well to deter bacterial growth, they had varied success in either degrading or deactivating a representative antibiotic resistance gene.


March 13, 2019

New method to assess platelet health could help ER doctors

a hand holding the new device

UW researchers have created a novel system that can measure platelet function within two minutes and can help doctors determine which trauma patients might need a blood transfusion upon being admitted to a hospital.


March 11, 2019

How to train your robot (to feed you dinner)

A robot feeds a volunteer a strawberry

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a robotic system that can feed people who need someone to help them eat.


February 4, 2019

Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent

The landscape surrounding a thaw bog in Alaska

A UW-led team has found that early spring rainfall warms up a thawing permafrost bog in Alaska and promotes the growth of plants and methane-producing microbes.


January 23, 2019

First-of-its-kind center hosts tools to analyze the effects of natural disasters

A researcher watches the z boat

A center housed at the University of Washington offers a new way for scientists to get their hands on state-of-the-art equipment to study the effects of natural disasters. The RAPID Facility, which is the first of its kind in the world, contains over 300 instruments that are available for researchers around the world to use.


January 9, 2019

First smartphone app to detect opioid overdose and its precursors

Second Chance uses sonar to monitor someone's breathing rate

UW researchers have developed a smartphone app that uses sonar to monitor someone’s breathing rate and sense when an opioid overdose has occurred.


December 19, 2018

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

a scientist puts a plant into a glass tube

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.



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