most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 21, number 2, autumn 2011
university of washington
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Shwetak Patel wins MacArthur Chair's message CSE leads new Intel center Alum profile: Wen-Hann Wang News Aram Harrow joins CSE CSE’s newest ACM Fellows iGEM 2011 world champs! Datagrams Awards Refraction wins NHK prize CRA recognizes CSE ugrads 2012 Diamond Award winners Events Susan Eggers retires! Jean-Loup Baer turns 75 2011 Industrial Affiliates meeting CSE @ 2011 Hopper Conference
msb21.2 PDF

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Editor: Kay Beck-Benton.
Contributors: Dieter Fox, Sally James, Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney, Shwetak Patel. Photo credits: Bruce Hemingway, Lindsay Michimoto, UW News Team.

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Shwetak Patel Receives MacArthur “Genius” Award

Shwetak Patel, 2011 winner of MacArthur Award
Shwetak Patel Receives MacArthur “Genius” Award
Photo courtesy the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Shwetak Patel, assistant professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. Often colloquially referred to as the “Genius Award,” this $500,000 prize was awarded to Shwetak for developing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensor systems that leverage existing infrastructures to enable users to track household energy and resource consumption. Shwetak was the youngest of the 22 individuals across the nation honored with the prestigious award this year. MacArthur Fellowships are awarded to "individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future." The selection criteria include exceptional creativity, a track record of significant achievement, and promise for important future advances. Fellowships are given without specific reporting requirements or obligations, with the intent of encouraging awardees to pursue their most innovative ideas without restriction. Recently, Shwetak also received a 2011 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship and was named "most influential person of 2011" by Seattle Magazine.

Shwetak's work in sustainability (electricity, water, and gas) has led to a number of accolades and national recognition, as well as a successful startup company that was acquired by Belkin Inc. in 2010. Beyond sustainability sensing, Shwetak has also been working on novel low-power wireless sensing solutions for dramatically increasing the battery life of wireless in-home sensors by using the power lines as a receiving antenna. Shwetak and his group have been collaborating closely with Microsoft Research on developing new user interface technologies that leverage the human body as an antenna to turn ordinary surfaces into touch surfaces and for gestural interaction. He also has been looking at ways to leverage mobile phones as sensors for medical health monitoring. In one example, Shwetak has developed ways to apply machine learning to turn an ordinary microphone on a phone into a digital spirometer and cough assessment device for patients with chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and COPD.

Shwetak's work continues push the boundaries of computing technology for a variety of interesting applications spaces. More information on Shwetak may be viewed here:

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