Carnegie Mellon Launches New Research Center
To Grow Mobile Device Technologies and Services
PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon CyLab recently launched a new research center to study business, organizational and technical issues related to mobility in managing systems found in cell phones, home appliances and building infrastructures.
The Mobility Research Center, which involves students and faculty from both Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley campuses, will develop underlying technologies that will ensure the privacy, security and reliability of sensitive and valuable information.
To complement this new research center, the university's Information Networking Institute (INI) has launched a new master's degree program in mobility that will educate and train students in this important, emerging field.
Because handheld devices are so ubiquitous, the demand for the growth and adoption of new technologies to manage data and streamline connections to share photos and video has already exploded into a $70 billion industry.
Carnegie Mellon's Mobility Research Center will conduct research to improve hardware and software technology for mobile devices, including studies of how people work, play, shop and collaborate, and how new applications and services can change their lives, according to University Professor Pradeep K. Khosla, the founding director of Carnegie Mellon CyLab and dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering.
"Several hand-held manufacturers, including Motorola and Nokia, are on board to work with us, and we will continue to work with industry to improve mobile applications," Khosla said. "The new center is part of our strategy to integrate our campus in Silicon Valley with Pittsburgh."
In addition to Carnegie Mellon Cylab, Carnegie Mellon's Silicon Valley campus and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the new Mobile Research Center will collaborate with the university's Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the School of Computer Science.
"This anywhere-anytime computing capability has prompted a need for increased emphasis on how all this novel mobile technology will benefit consumers," said Martin Griss, a co-director of the new Mobility Research Center and associate dean for research at Carnegie Mellon's campus in Silicon Valley. "We are moving from the plain old mobile phone to the truly mobile companion," Griss said.
Griss said the center will link existing research, education and entrepreneurship programs at Carnegie Mellon's Silicon Valley campus to the university's ongoing research in Pittsburgh.
"Our innovative research here in Pittsburgh continues to highlight the revolution now under way in mobile computing," said Priya Narasimhan, a co-director of the Mobility Research Center and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon.
Increasingly, consumers want handheld devices that can help them find the best route through rush hour traffic or the nearest restroom. Carnegie Mellon researchers are working to expand these "context aware" systems that ultimately know enough about a user's surroundings to anticipate when the consumer needs certain information.
Narasimhan has already developed a hub for student research projects that develop mobile technologies to assist the disabled by turning the cell phone into a virtual coach. Her research team has developed software that allows blind users to independently identify currency, shop for groceries and receive scheduled bus routes from the Internet on smart phones that read the information aloud to the users. Her team has also created systems to translate sign language into the spoken word.
"There's really no limit to what can be accomplished," Narasimhan said. "This new center will engage both industry and academia in improving next generation mobile technology."
Students involved with the new research center will be able to earn a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering and participate in a variety of industry practicums.
Education remains an important component at Carnegie Mellon's Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, Calif., where researchers and faculty work daily to expand the reach of Carnegie Mellon's world-renowned professional programs and perform innovative research that connects it to important global technology companies.
The Silicon Valley campus, established in 2002 at Moffett Field, offers both full-time and part-time master's degree programs in software engineering, software management, networking, security and mobility, and engineering and technology innovation management.
This fall, the Silicon Valley campus also will launch an associated Ph.D. degree program focused on mobility, security and networking.
Pictured above: Students in Priya Narasimhan's research group last semester created a glove that can be used to translate sign language into the spoken word. Sensors on the glove identify the position of the hand, then computer chips in the glove send a text message to a cell phone, which automatically converts the text message into spoken words.