University of Washington

University of Washington Articles

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Artificial Intelligence
7th August 2018
Children talk to technology, but how does it respond?

A University of Washington study shows how children respond to voice-activated technologies, often treating a device as a conversation partner. The study suggests that devices could be more responsive to children by prompting and filling in gaps in communication. For such popular household technology, that’s a missed opportunity to reach every member of the family, a new University of Washington study finds.

21st February 2018
Laser wirelessly charges a smartphone safely at a distance

Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time developed a method to safely charge a smartphone wirelessly using a laser. As the team reports in a paper published in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable & Ubiquitous Technologies, a narrow, invisible beam from a laser emitter can deliver charge to a smartphone sitting across a room — and can potentially c...

Aerospace & Defence
26th January 2018
'Atmospheric disequilibrium' helps spot exoplanetary life

As NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and other new giant telescopes come online they will need novel strategies to look for evidence of life on other planets. A University of Washington study has found a simple approach to look for life that might be more promising than just looking for oxygen. The paper, published in Science Advances, offers a recipe for providing evidence that a distant planet harbours life.

22nd November 2017
Brain's ability to decode pitch improves cochlear implants

For decades, scientists have debated how humans perceive pitch, and how the ear and the brain transmit pitch information in a sound. There are two prevalent theories: place and time. The “time code” theory argues that pitch is a matter of auditory nerve fibre firing rate, while the 'place code' theory focuses on where in the inner ear a sound activates. Now a study bolsters support for the place code. These findings, publish...

Component Management
7th November 2017
Smart paper conducts electricity and detects water

In cities and large-scale manufacturing plants, a water leak in a complicated network of pipes can take tremendous time and effort to detect, as technicians must disassemble many pieces to locate the problem. The American Water Works Association indicates that nearly a quarter-million water line breaks occur each year in the U.S., costing public water utilities about $2.8 billion annually.

6th November 2017
How to store information in your clothes without electronics

A new type of smart fabric developed at the University of Washington could pave the way for jackets that store invisible passcodes and open the door to your apartment or office. The UW computer scientists have created fabrics and fashion accessories that can store data - from security codes to identification tags - without needing any on-board electronics or sensors.

23rd October 2017
Flexible skin for prosthetics can sense shear force

If a robot is sent to disable a roadside bomb — or delicately handle an egg while cooking you an omelet — it needs to be able to sense when objects are slipping out of its grasp. Yet to date it’s been difficult or impossible for most robotic and prosthetic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and shear forces that occur, for example, when a finger is sliding along a tabletop or when an object begins to fall.

12th October 2017
Mini-kidney organoids reveal renal disease secrets

Kidney organoids are revealing both the factors that influence the formation of kidney cysts, as well as how the disease progresses. The organoids are grown in labware from human stem cells. Polycystic kidney disease affects 12 million people. Until recently, scientists have been unable to recreate the progression of this human disease in a laboratory setting. That scientific obstacle is being overcome.

Test & Measurement
11th September 2017
PupilScreen detects concussions with a smartphone

University of Washington researchers are developing the first smartphone app that is capable of objectively detecting concussion and other traumatic brain injuries in the field: on the sidelines of a sports game, on a battlefield or in the home of an elderly person prone to falls. PupilScreen can detect changes in a pupil’s response to light using a smartphone’s video camera and deep learning tools — a type of artificial in...

30th August 2017
Selfies could screen for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognoses - with a five-year survival rate of 9% - in part because there are no telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads. Now, University of Washington researchers have developed an app that could allow people to easily screen for pancreatic cancer and other diseases - by snapping a smartphone selfie.

28th July 2017
When scientists became lab mice for brain-scanning project

A quest to analyse the unique features of individual human brains evolved into the so-called Midnight Scan Club, a group of scientists who had big ideas but almost no funding and little time to research the trillions of neural connections that activate the body's most powerful organ. The research group started in 2013 by two neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who aimed to collect a massive amount of data...

6th July 2017
Battery-free cellphone harvests ambient power

University of Washington researchers have invented a cellphone that requires no batteries - a major leap forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones. Instead, the phone harvests the few microwatts of power it requires from either ambient radio signals or light. The team also made Skype calls using its battery-free phone, demonstrating that the prototype made of commercial, off-the-shelf components can receive and transmit ...

Component Management
8th June 2017
Magnetism in the 2D world of monolayers discovered

Magnetic materials form the basis of technologies that play increasingly pivotal roles in our lives today, including sensing and hardDisk data storage. But as our innovative dreams conjure wishes for ever-smaller and faster devices, researchers are seeking new magnetic materials that are more compact, more efficient and can be controlled using precise, reliable methods.

7th June 2017
Stroke rehab device deduces intention directly from brain

Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralysed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By mentally controlling the device with the help of a brain-computer interface, participants trained the uninjured parts of their brains to take over functions previously performed by injured areas of the brain, th...

20th February 2017
Smartphones advance diagnosis and treatment

Smartphones are revolutionising the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, thanks to add-ons and apps that make their ubiquitous small screens into medical devices, researchers say. "If you look at the camera, the flash, the microphone... they all are getting better and better," said Shwetak Patel, engineering professor at the University of Washington. "In fact the capabilities on those phones are as great as some of the specialised devi...

Test & Measurement
15th February 2017
Intravascular camera helps assess dangerous plagues

A collaboration between scientists at University of Washington and University of Michigan has led to the development of a new way of imaging atherosclerosis within blood vessels. The technology relies on delivering a tiny camera into a vessel’s lumen and illuminating the plagues using red, green, and blue lasers.

29th November 2016
One step closer to regeneration in humans

What if humans could regrow an amputated arm or leg, or completely restore nervous system function after a spinal cord injury? A new study of one of our closest invertebrate relatives, the acorn worm, reveals that this feat might one day be possible. Acorn worms burrow in the sand around coral reefs, but their ancestral relationship to chordates means they have a genetic makeup and body plan surprisingly similar to ours.

25th October 2016
Turning your living room into a wireless charging station

A flat-screen panel that resembles a TV on your living room wall could one day remotely charge any device within its line of sight, according to research. In a paper on the arXiv pre-print repository, engineers at the University of Washington, Duke University and Intellectual Ventures' Invention Science Fund (ISF) show that the technology already exists to build such a system—it's only a matter of taking the time to design it.

Component Management
4th October 2016
Protein enables 'seamless' bioelectronics devices

In a paper published in Scientific Reports, engineers at the University of Washington unveil peptides - small proteins which carry out countless essential tasks in our cells - that can provide a link between artificial and biological - harnessing biological rules to exchange information between the biochemistry of our bodies and the chemistry of our devices.

12th September 2016
Screening for blood conditions without needle sticks

In the developing world, anemia—a blood condition exacerbated by malnutrition or parasitic disease—is a staggeringly common health problem that often goes undiagnosed. In hospitals everywhere, children and adults with leukemia and other disorders require frequent blood draws to determine if they need blood transfusions. In both cases, doctors are interested in measuring hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells.

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