Center Faculty Selected for CITRIS 2021 Seed Awards

By Megha Krishnan

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) announce the recipients of the 2021 CITRIS Seed Awards. Competitive teams from the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Davis Health, Merced and Santa Cruz submitted 47 proposals for innovative, early-stage projects that emphasize collaboration across two or more institutions. This year, thanks in part to external philanthropic support, 13 teams were selected to each receive a one-time award of up to $60,000 for interdisciplinary work. These projects are designed to show results within a year, but many promise far-reaching influence on the future of their fields.

Haptic smart phone-cover: A real-time navigation system for individuals with visual impairment 
Principal Investigators: Iman Soltani (Lead PI, UC Davis), Parisa Emami (UC Davis Health), Jonathon Schofield (UC Davis)

While many researchers have thoroughly investigated assistive technologies to help people with visual impairments navigate and experience their environments in rich detail, few devices have been adapted beyond research spaces. This project aims to take assistive aids out of the laboratory and into the world by creating a tactile phone cover to provide the user with a haptic map of surrounding obstacles using controllable surface topography. By relying on touch, rather than sound, this technology allows for people with visual impairments to be aware of their surroundings while also being able to sense their environment in richer detail. This technology can help individuals with visual impairments to move around their surroundings more independently and also inform further development of haptic assistive devices.

Wearable sensor technologies for continuous monitoring of function and capacity in older adults
Principal Investigators: Carolynn Patten (Lead PI, UC Davis Health), Xin Liu (UC Davis)

While continuous monitoring technology that can help older adults identify changes in their functional ability and physiological capacity has become more common in recent years, no wearable devices are yet commercially available to measure step symmetry. Step symmetry is an important early indicator of health conditions that may leave older adults unable to live independently. To encourage proactive care for these problems, this project will combine a wearable sensor with an algorithm for heart rate, acceleration and gyroscope signals to determine critical changes in a patient’s gait. Observing these changes early can improve life planning for older people and can offer hope for remediation with timely, targeted intervention programs to maintain physical, cognitive and emotional health.

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Human & Animal Health