Monday, June 22, 2009
Inspire Innovation: Anywhere Anytime Computing -- The Future is Now
“Smart phones are becoming more popular and more powerful. Sensors are getting to be more powerful, cheaper and more ubiquitous. All of this changes the way you interact with other people and your environment. At CyLab MRC, we are ... conducting holistic multidisciplinary research into how people work, what would make their lives easier and how technology can help.” Martin Griss
Anywhere, Anytime Computing -- The Future is Now
By Richard Power
In articulating CyLab’s goals and mission, I often say that CyLab harnesses the future to secure the present. Well, CyLab Mibility Research Center (MRC) harnesses the future to usher the present into it.
CyLab MRC was founded in April 2008, and as already mentioned, it is a bi-coastal program. Priya Narasimhan, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Pittsburgh, is Griss’ CyLab MRC Co-Director.
The program is dedicated to “enriching anywhere anytime computing.”
In his remarks at the Silicon Valley campus event, Griss provided some context and outlined the scope of CyLab MRC’s activities:
“Smart phones are becoming more popular and more powerful. Sensors are getting to be more powerful, cheaper and more ubiquitous. All of this changes the way you interact with other people and your environment. At CyLab MRC, we are looking broadly at novel applications, devices and systems. We are conducting holistic multidisciplinary research into how people work, what would make their lives easier and how technology can help. We want to do large-scale pilots. We are involved in education research and entrepreneurship. We have focuses in the areas of mobile health, transportation, manufacturing and the enterprise.”
Griss also shared his personal vision of the “Mobile Companion.”
“The mobile companion the thing you carry with you all the time, it knows where you are who you are what you are doing and ideally what you are about to do, and adjusts itself to support you, in your style, in the way you want whether you are working, collaborating or playing it will leverage your schedule, preferences and history if you are in the car and someone sends you a message should you read it? Not if you are driving. So if you are driving it will read it to you. On the other hand if you have someone with you maybe it should not read it to you a decision has to be made unless it is urgent if traffic is backed up and it will say to you traffic is backed up maybe we should stop and shop at Costco, it has your favorite beer on sale.”
Two faculty members presented current CyLab MRC research projects.
Pei Zhang, an assistant research professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Information Networking (INI) and Electrical Computing and Engineering (ECE) demonstrated “SensorFly.”
“What if one day there was an earthquake or a fire, and the building was failing down, but there could be people trapped inside, how do you decide whether or not to send rescuers inside or not? Sensor Fly aims to have a swarm of flying sensors that will enter the building and see if there are any survivors and guide the rescuers to them.”
The goal of the research, according to Zhang, is to create something that is very cheap, but at the same time hard to destroy and capable of mapping and recognition.
Joy Zhang, also an assistant research professor, demonstrated some of his research into speech translation for mobile devices, translating English into Spanish on his laptop.
“We all say that the world is flat, but we are still separated by language barriers. Carnegie Mellon is a world leader in speech translation. On this campus, we are doing speech translation particularly for mobile devices. In you are traveling in China, and you do not speak Chinese, in the near future, you will be able to use your mobile device, you will speak your English into the device, it will translate the English into Chinese, and then translate the Chinese back to English, so that, for example, you where to find the restaurant that you are looking for.”
He is also working on adding the speech translation system to the virtual world, Second Life.