March/April 2002
Volume Two - Issue Two

In The Spotlight

Sarah Petricca, BHE Graduate Student

Sarah Petricca joined ICES in June of 2001 as a graduate student in the biomedical and health engineering department. She is co-advised by Prashant Kumta (MSE) and Kacey Marra (ICES). She is currently working with Kacey Marra, research faculty at ICES, on designing polymer and ceramic scaffolds for bone tissue. Prior to attending Carnegie Mellon, Sarah was an undergraduate at Allegheny College where she received her bachelor's degree ('01) in bio-chemistry. Sarah splits her research time between ICES, the Materials Science Lab and the Bone Tissue Engineering Center (BTEC). She expects to earn her masters degree in May of 2003. For her long term goals, Sarah is still debating between either a Ph.D. in her current field or a medical degree. In her moments of free time, Sarah manages to attend a training program for emergency medical technicians and is also a volunteer at the Carnegie Science Center where she teaches a workshop for children. Sarah is really enjoying her time here at Carnegie Mellon.

Tactile Display


Wearable and Pervasive Computing: Seamless Computing Environment
Asim Smailagic, LINCS Director

The essence of pervasive computing is the creation of environments saturated with computing and communication capability, yet gracefully integrated with human users. Wearable computing brings the power of a pervasive computing environment to a person by placing computing and sensory resources on the user in an unobtrusive way. These computers can be specialized and modular like items of clothing. Unlike laptops or handheld computers, wearable computers offer many new modes to interact beyond keyboards and touch screens, in a natural, intuitive way. Also, wearables can be easily reconfigured to meet specific needs or applications. A pervasive computing system that strives to be minimally intrusive has to be context-aware. In other words, it needs to be cognizant of its user's state and surroundings, and to modify its behavior based on this information. If a human assistant were given such context, he or she would make decisions in a proactive fashion, anticipating user needs. For example, if a driver were passing through dangerous traffic conditions, a pervasive computing system would note this and automatically direct all calls to voice mail.

The Laboratory for Interactive Computer Systems (LINCS), comprised of the Wearable Computers Lab and Industrial Design Studio, has been contributing to define the future for not only computing technologies but also for the use of computers in daily activities. The lab has designed and built over two-dozen novel generations of wearable computers over the last ten years, most of them field-tested. The application domains range from inspection, maintenance, manufacturing, and navigation to on-the-move collaboration, position sensing, two-way language translation, and real-time speech recognition. Our users include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Adtranz, Electric Boat, Compaq, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, IBM, Chevron, Intel, and more. Spot, the newest wearable computer, is intended to support context aware and augmented reality applications. We see ahead a world of near-zero energy-weight-cost wearable computers for individuals to support their education, work and play.

In addition, the lab has built several pioneering pervasive computing prototypes. Portable Help Desk (PHD) assists users in locating their colleagues and in finding useful resources, such as printers, audio/visual equipment, restaurants, vending machines, and free food. PHD integrates with a highly accurate location service invented by the lab, enabling students to instantaneously locate one another. This helps students manage their complicated team meeting schedules and projects. Because they have meetings at various times and locations, students are often unsure of where their next meeting is supposed to take place. The ability to observe team members' locations on campus helps students determine a meeting's location. The Portable Help Desk (PHD) application confers that ability.

Another prototype, Idealink, provides a virtual meeting and collaboration space in which people unable to meet in person can sketch their ideas, interact with other team members, and have meetings as rich as face-to-face ones, including remote collaboration. The system can capture the content of a meeting. Several design classes at Carnegie Mellon are using Idealink to have more effective collaborative design sessions than ever before possible.

Furthermore, the Spring 2001 Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems class focused on the design and implementation of the Companion Contextual Car Driver Interface for General Motors. It can analyze the driver's intent and watch the driver's physical and cognitive state for any impairments or information overload. The prototype combines a smart car environment and driver state monitoring, incorporating a wide range of input-output modalities (speech, gesture, face, and fingerprint recognition and speech synthesis), and a display hierarchy featuring heads-up display for urgent information and a touch-screen display for less critical information. Intelligent agents offer capabilities ranging from learning about drivers' behavioral patterns to proactively helping when needed, taking into account our research regarding the limits of drivers' attention. The Companion makes driving a more useful, entertaining, and safer experience. It links information from many contexts, such as location and schedule, and transparently learns from the driver, interacting with the driver only when it is wanted and safe.

We are also creating new ways for users to interact with computers. Currently, projects are underway at the lab's Interaction Design Studio to create an interface that uses sound and tactile feedback to intuitively present information to a mobile user without using a visual display. These modes of communicating with users have been largely overlooked in the past, and provide a way to ease demands on users' attention. Not only are these senses capable of processing large amounts of information, often they are also the only senses which can be used by a mobile user.

Our research and prototypes are fostering a world rich in wearable and pervasive computing capabilities. What would it be like to live in that world?

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Sarah Petricca, BHE Graduate Student

Wearable and Pervasive Computing: Seamless Computing Environment, Asim Smailagic, LINCS Director


ICES Calendar

PITA Symposium Harrisburg, PA, March 25

AIS Open House on April 4

Annual Spring Happy Hour ~ Salsa Style: Club Havana, Shadyside, Wed. April 24

ICES Seminars

Volunteers Needed for Expanding Outreach Activities


30-Day Travel Expense Reimbursement Policy

Rich Hoff: Prism Magazine

Kacey Marra: TEQ Magazine

Cristina Amon, PITA Symposium: Pittsburgh Business Times

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