Carnegie Mellon University

Image of the Earthtime Exhibit

December 07, 2017

Airport Visitors Travel in Time, Face Off with CMU Technology

By Abby Simmons

Abby Simmons
  • Marketing & Communications
  • 412-268-4920

As part of the Pittsburgh International Airport's Creating a Sense of Place program, sponsored by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University has installed two displays at the airport that give travelers a chance to interact with CMU technology, and get a look at how research conducted at CMU is shaping the future of the world.

CMU has played a critical role in the region's resurgence as a high-tech hub, attracting talent and investment from around the world. With more than 13,000 students, the university hosts more than 70,000 visitors annually, from families and alumni to corporate, government, nonprofit and academic leaders.

EarthTime and IntraFace provide opportunities for visitors to explore technology from CMU's world-renowned School of Computer Science.


Location: Concourse D

Developed by the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab (CREATE Lab) at CMU, EarthTime displays visualizations of Earth's transformations through natural changes and human impact. By rapidly combining huge sets of data with a vast number of images captured by NASA satellites between 1984 and 2016, users can explore issues like deforestation, movement of refugees, sea-level rise and surface water changes.

CREATE Lab empowers people to use technology to better their lives while promoting evidence-based decision-making, public discourse and action. In partnership with the World Economic Forum, CREATE Lab has demonstrated EarthTime to ministers, heads of state, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and corporate leaders. Most recently, the technology was presented at New York City's Climate Week and in a TEDxGlobal Talk. It also has been used as a teaching tool in classrooms and by Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom for its annual "State of the World's Plants" report.


Location: Concourse C

The human face is one of the most powerful channels of non-verbal communication, conveying data about a person's emotional state, level of alertness and moods. Visitors to the IntraFace kiosk can explore how real-time facial image analysis software recognizes five basic expressions: happy, surprised, neutral, disgust or sad. Perhaps in keeping with the season, happiness has been the most common emotion registered by almost 30,000 people who have visited the kiosk since its launch in early November.

IntraFace is a project of the Human Sensing Lab at CMU's Robotics Institute. By sharing this open-source technology with the world's research community, scientists can pursue new ways to build intelligent systems that solve society's complex problems, including advancing the autism screening process, detecting terrorists in crowds and addressing distracted driving.