New Hope for People Living with Paralysis

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UMBC and UMB scientists are working together to build sensors that can be sewn into clothing to detect the gestures of people with paralysis. This technology has tremendous potential as a cost-effective way to empower people with limited mobility, such as enabling a person to turn on a light by waving a hand over their arm or knee.

The goal says, Nilanjan Banerjee, an assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering is to, “use these sensors,” to sense “gestures for controlling the environment.” So that patients could control light switches or call 911.

Learn more by watching the video.

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/?id=231786

The team working on this project is comprised of Nilanjan Banerjee and Ryan Robucci, both assistant professors from the computer science and electrical engineering department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Sandy McComb Waller, associate professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Penny Rheingans on Tech Firms Offering Egg Freezing as a Benefit

Penny Rheingans, a professor in computer science and electrical engineering, talks with the BBC about the benefit that some tech companies are now offering women — paying for female employees to freeze eggs.

Rheingans tell the BBC, “my initial reaction is negative.”

She says that the companies are suggesting that, “their culture and work expectations might be incompatible with raising a family.”

Furthermore, she says, “they’re saying to women that they should wait to have those babies until the company is done with their technically productive years.”

Listen to the complete interview

Information Systems Ph.D. Student is Co-Developer of an iPhone App in iOS8 Package

Brian Frey, UMBC Ph.D. student in information systems, has been collaborating for the past several years with colleagues at Georgia Tech University on a very simple concept: How can one infuse braille communication with the iPhone? Over these past few years the team has been refining their Braille Touch App in support of that concept. Their efforts were validated with the recent release of the Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS8. Of the millions of apps that Apple has approved for release in the App Store since the release of the first generation iPhone, only a select few have been tapped for inclusion as a “native” app, included in the iOS software package itself. Braille Touch provides a familiar braille layout for the vision impaired user as well as audio feedback to give the user instant feedback that they are typing the message as they intended.

UMBC Team Participates in White House Game Jam

For three days beginning September 6 the White House Educational Game Jam invited a select set of professional game developers and academics to create innovative educational game prototypes over single weekend, with the resulting games presented at the White House Executive Office Building.

There were 23 teams and about 100 participants. The team sizes ranged from 1 to 9, with most around 4-5. It was a mix of major companies and schools. Examples of large companies were: Ubisoft, Sony and Rovio. Small companies were: BrainPop, GlassLab and RocketMind. Academic teams included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Melon University, American University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the Smithsonian and UMBC.

UNC and UMBC fielded teams of undergraduates, rather than grads or professionals. The event wasn’t a competition, just brainstorming and prototyping educational games.

“Our game came out quite well, and we got a bunch of great comments,” says Marc Olano, faculty advisor and associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Participating students were:
  • Eliot Carney-Seim, BS, Computer Science, Junior
  • Paul Tschirgi, BA, Visual Arts, Senior
  • Calvin Kumagai, BA, Visual Arts, Senior
  • Alex Grube, BS, Computer Science, 2012

The students developed the game Bob Blob Bomb Lob. It is a 3D game to teach step-by-step algorithmic thinking and debugging while you save a hapless blob from the bomb he has ingested. You can see a video of the game below.