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February 27, 2014

News Briefs

WEF's Top 10 Emerging Technologies List Cites CMU Research

The World Economic Forum has released its 2014 list of the Top 10 Emerging Technologies, which cites Carnegie Mellon University's pioneering research in one of these technologies, the quantified self.

The report, released Feb. 26 by the WEF's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies, notes that the quantified-self movement has existed for years, based on the idea that continually collecting data on everyday activities can help individuals make better choices on health and behavior. But the emergence of the smartphone, which makes it feasible to collect and process such data for large numbers of people, elevated the quantified self this year to the WEF list of technologies that could reshape society.

Justine Cassell, director of CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and chair of the WEF's Global Agenda Council for Robotics and Smart Devices, helped compile this year's list.

As examples of the potential impact of the quantified self, the report notes a project by Jason Hong and John Zimmerman, both associate professors in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, who are exploring the use of smartphone data to help detect the onset of depression. Changes in sleep patterns, physical activity and people in contact via phone, email and social media may all be useful in determining if someone might be suffering from depression or if a patient is responding to therapy.

The report also cites Livehoods, a project that includes Hong and Norman Sadeh, professor in the Institute for Software Research. Livehoods uses Foursquare check-ins and other geotagged data gathered by smartphones to create maps of urban areas. These maps show how different groups of people use urban areas, reflecting communities defined as much by lifestyle as geography.

Learn more about the WEF's top 10 list.

Duolingo Named Best Education Startup

Duolingo, the language education and translation service launched by Luis von Ahn, associate professor of computer science, and Ph.D. student Severin Hacker, has received yet another honor. The tech blog community — TechCrunch, Gigaom and VentureBeat — has presented Duolingo with the 2013 Crunchie Award for Best Education Startup.

Spinoff Qualifies for Google Lunar XPRIZE Funding

Carnegie Mellon spinoff Astrobotic Technology, which is attempting to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE in partnership with CMU, has qualified for Milestone Prizes offered by the XPRIZE organization, which could net the team up to $1.75 million for reaching its objectives in three categories — Landing, Mobility and Imaging.

CMU will lead the effort in the Mobility category, which will demonstrate that the rover can survive the vacuum and extreme cold of the moon, as well as show that it can complete and document a 500-meter traverse on the lunar surface.

Astrobotic, led by CMU's Fredkin University Research Professor William L. "Red" Whittaker, is slated in October 2015 to launch a robotic rover aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a mission to a lunar skylight, which is a pit that may lead to an underground cave formed by lava flow. Such caves could one day shelter human explorers.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is offering rewards totaling $30 million for private teams that can land and operate a robot on the moon. It added the Milestone Prizes to recognize the technological achievements and associated financial hurdles faced by the teams as they prepare their lunar spacecraft.

Learn more.

Buggy Practices Begin March 1-2

Buggy practice sessions begin this Saturday and Sunday and will continue every weekend through April 5-6. Tech Street, Frew Street and Schenley Drive will be closed to traffic and parking from 5 - 9 a.m. on the following dates:

  • March: 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30; and
  • April:  5, 6

This year's 100th anniversary of Spring Carnival is April 10-12. Learn more about Spring Carnival.

CMU Alert App Now on Android

The CMU Mobile Alert App is now available on Android smartphones for students, faculty, staff and parents. Also available on iPhones, the app was developed to provide:

  • Emergency procedures and guidance for 21 different emergencies;
  • Information regarding crimes and crime prevention;
  • Links to important Carnegie Mellon websites;
  • Interactive maps that provide information about locations of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs); and
  • Automatic dialing for University Police, Safety Escorts and 911.

Download the Android app at
Download the iPhone app at

Computing Services Switches to ServiceNow

Computing Services has transitioned to ServiceNow, a new service management system. Individuals sending questions or problems to the Computing Services Help Center will be sent an email confirmation through ServiceNow with reference to an incident number rather than a service request number.

ServiceNow is expected to help Computing Services improve its ability to manage service requests and processes, and in the future allow the customer to track service requests and inquiries as it moves through the system. Computing Services thanks you in advance for your patience during this transition period. For more information visit

Children's School Hosts Bird Bonanza

Carnegie Mellon’s Children’s School is dedicating its annual Family Festival to birds, fascinating creatures that can fly, come in an array of shapes and colors — there are 10,000 different species — can sing a range of tones and pitches, and have varied personalities. 

“Bird Bonanza,” from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 6 at Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall 17, will help the students and their families learn about the different specimens and what birds eat. They will have the chance to meet a few birds that the National Aviary is bringing as well as participate in various educational games. An arts and craft section also will be available to allow the students to make their own bird creations to take home.

Founded in 1968, CMU's Children's School is a laboratory school that focuses on hands-on learning for children between the ages of 3 and 5. The school is part of the Dietrich College's Department of Psychology and allows the university to sustain a world-class level of child development research.

Student Employees To Be Honored at Appreciation Lunch

Registration is now open for the Student Employee Appreciation Lunch from 12 – 1:30 p.m., April 2 in the  University Center’s Rangos Hall. Campus supervisors can host their student employees, and join them for lunch to celebrate the great work they do. Entertainment will be provided by musical theater students in the School of Drama. Registration deadline is March 28. Register at

Responsible Conduct of Research Seminars Continue

The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series continues. Upcoming sessions are scheduled from 12 – 1 p.m. in the University Center. Dates and topics are:

  • Tuesday, March 18: Who Owns the Data?
  • Wednesday, March 26: Data Security
  • Tuesday, April 8: Research Data Management
  • Tuesday, April 15: Ethical Issues with Research Involving Human Subjects
  • Tuesday, April 22: International Research Considerations: Foreign Travel and Foreign Collaborators

More information is available on the RCR website. Space is limited, so please register early.

Safe Driving Classes Scheduled

Environmental Health & Safety has scheduled two free Safe Driving classes this semester that, depending on your insurance company, may result in lowering your insurance premiums.

University protocol requires that anyone whose job requires them to drive a vehicle on behalf of the university take this class once every three years. The class also is recommended for those who aren’t required to drive as part of their job but who may drive on occasion.
Classes will be held from 8:30 – 11 a.m. on the following days:

  • Tuesday, March 11
  • Tuesday, April 8

To register, go to and click on the Defensive Driving link.