The Allen School has a long and proud tradition of applying computing innovation to address societal challenges and improve people’s lives — from portable technologies for making the web accessible to people who are blind or low vision, to a suite of mobile data collection tools deployed around the world in support of public health, sustainable agriculture, wildlife conservation, and more. Today, our researchers continue to build on this tradition while opening up new avenues of exploration for advancing computer science for good. Below is a sampling of our research that aims to solve problems with broad impact for people, society and our planet while expanding the frontiers of our field.

Computing for HealthMan holding smartphone with paper cone up to child's ear, smartphone screen displays the word Scan in a circle above a line graph and color spectrum

Allen School researchers, in collaboration with health scientists and clinicians, are applying computing innovation to transform medical science and patient care — from leveraging advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to cultivate a deeper understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, to devising new approaches to diagnosis and treatment that harness the sensing capabilities of smartphones and other smart devices. Our researchers are also applying data science techniques to gain insights into how various factors impact people’s well-being at a larger scale. And when COVID-19 emerged as a public health threat, we rapidly turned our expertise to aiding the public health response — work which will have an enduring impact beyond the current pandemic.

Sample Projects & Papers

Recent News

Restoring touch through electrodes implanted in the human brain will require engineering around a sensory lag

Smartphone system measures clotting time of users' blood samples

Hear, hear: Sound Life Sciences wins FDA OK for app that uses sonar to measure breathing

Deserts, demographics and diet: UW and Stanford researchers reveal findings of nationwide study of the relationship between food environment and healthy eating

Wearable device can spot, reverse opioid overdoses, researchers say

'Lazy' AI: UW researchers find that tech can misdiagnose COVID-19 by taking shortcuts

Contributing Faculty

Computing for SustainabilityBee with sensor package mounted on back gathering nectary on a coneflower

Allen School researchers are taking inspiration from nature and developing innovative solutions to address the world’s sustainability challenges while reducing the carbon footprint of computing itself. Some of our work focuses on untethering computation from traditional power sources to support a variety of real-world applications, from smart agriculture, to green buildings, to disaster response. Our researchers are also reimagining how we manage the world’s rapidly expanding trove of digital data by developing novel storage capabilities using synthetic DNA as a potential alternative to power-hungry datacenters — and designing other systems and hardware that will optimize performance while minimizing environmental impact across a variety of domains, from artificial intelligence to manufacturing.

In 2022, the Allen School launched Computing for the Environment (CS4Env) in partnership with the University of Washington's Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of the Environment, College of Engineering and eScience Institute. The goal of the initiative is to support novel collaborations and cultivate a community of researchers across the Environmental Sciences and Computer Science & Engineering. The program awarded its first round of competitive research grants to 12 cross-disciplinary projects spanning air quality monitoring, wildfire forecasting, climate modeling, wildlife tracking, wastewater epidemiology, and more.

Sample Projects & Papers

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Recent News

Dandelion-inspired sensors float on the wind

‘World’s lowest power wireless chip’: UW spinout Jeeva unveils new sensor data streaming tech

We built a 2020 time capsule out of synthetic DNA—here's how

DNA-based molecular tagging system could replace printed barcodes

UW researcher put tiny tracking technology on giant hornets to help state deal with murderous pest

‘Carpentry Compiler’ turns 3D models to instructions on how to build them

Contributing Faculty

Computing for SocietyGroup shot of people in remote Philippines village in front of cell phone tower and trees, with banner displaying VTBS

It’s a small world after all, as the famous song goes — and it’s only getting smaller thanks to our increasing ability to connect instantly with people around the globe and to access, translate, and disseminate content online. However, this easy connectivity has a downside; it can be misused to stoke political and social divides, rapidly spread misinformation, target vulnerable groups, and exploit weaknesses in privacy and security. The positive impacts of technology can also be unevenly distributed, particularly in low-resource communities. This is where Allen School researchers come in, analyzing and mitigating adverse impacts of emerging technologies and giving users the tools they need to protect themselves and others while enjoying the benefits of a more connected world through computing.

Sample Projects & Papers

Recent News

Can computers learn common sense?

Political ads during the 2020 presidential election cycle collected personal information and spread misleading information

UW and UC San Diego researchers honored for their work discovering that someone could hack a car

The curse of neural toxicity: AI2 and UW researchers help computers watch their language

UW researchers work to decrease the digital divide in the Puget Sound region

Computer scientists achieve crown jewel of cryptography

Contributing Faculty

Computing for EveryoneCloseup of robotic gripper holding fork with strawberry up to person's face with horizontal window blinds in background

Technology can be a great equalizer for people with diverse abilities and experiences — as long as users’ diverse needs and preferences are taken into account. Allen School researchers are leading the way when it comes to the development of new tools and techniques for improving how people interact with technology and the world around them. From making it easier for people to navigate their communities, to ensuring emerging technologies are inclusive of diverse cultures and languages, to assisting those with mobility impairments to complete everyday tasks — and much more! — we produce innovations that will have a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives and extend the benefits of computing to all.

Sample Projects & Papers

Recent News

Taskar Center launches first mobile version of AccessMap pedestrian trip planning tool for Android and iOS

SoundWatch: New smartwatch app alerts d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users to birdsong, sirens and other desired sounds

$11.45 million federal grant will develop transit, mobility tech for underserved groups

Microsoft invests $2.5M in CREATE, a new center for accessible tech at the University of Washington

Project Sidewalk helps users map accessibility around Seattle, other cities

How to to train your robot (to feed you dinner)

Contributing Faculty