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Robots Get Creative To Cut Through Clutter

Byron Spice Wednesday May 18, 2016
Clutter is a special challenge for robots, but new Carnegie Mellon University software is helping robots cope, whether they're beating a path across the moon or grabbing a milk jug from the back of the refrigerator.The software not only helped a robot deal efficiently with clutter, but it also surprisingly revealed the robot's creativity in solving problems."It was exploiting sort of superhuman capabilities," Siddhartha Srinivasa, associate professor of robotics, said of his lab's two-armed mobile robot, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, or HERB. "The robot's wrist has a 270-degree range,... 

Robot's In-Hand Eye Maps Surroundings, Determines Hand's Location

Byron Spice Monday May 16, 2016
Before a robot arm can reach into a tight space or pick up a delicate object, the robot needs to know precisely where its hand is. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have shown that a camera attached to the robot's hand can rapidly create a 3-D model of its environment and also locate the hand within that 3-D world.Doing so with imprecise cameras and wobbly arms in real-time is tough, but the CMU team found they could improve the accuracy of the map by incorporating the arm itself as a sensor, using the angle of its joints to better determine the pose of the camera... 

Users' Perceptions of Password Security Do Not Always Match Reality

Daniel Tkacik Wednesday May 11, 2016
Think your password is secure? You may need to think again. People's perceptions of password strength may not always match reality, according to a recent study by CyLab, Carnegie Mellon's Security and Privacy Institute.For example, study participants expected ieatkale88 to be roughly as secure as iloveyou88; one said, "both are a combination of dictionary words and are appended by numbers." However, when researchers used a model to predict the number of guesses an attacker would need to crack each password, ieatkale88 would require four billion times more guesses to crack because the string "... 

Shun Receives ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Byron Spice Wednesday May 11, 2016
Julian Shun, who received his Ph.D. from the Computer Science Department, is the winner of the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) 2015 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his work describing new approaches for designing and implementing scalable parallel programs.His dissertation, "Shared-Memory Parallelism Can Be Simple, Fast and Scalable," was also awarded the SCS Doctoral Dissertation Award last year. Shun is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was awarded a Miller Research Fellowship.While parallelism is essential to achieving high... 

Technique Processes Signals From RFID Tags With Speed Sufficient for Real-Time Interactivity

Byron Spice (Carnegie Mellon) and Jennifer Liu (Walt Disney Imagineering) Wednesday May 11, 2016
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are designed primarily for inventory control, but researchers at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to process the tag signals with sufficient speed to make them suitable for use in games, physical interfaces and other interactive objects.Their technique makes it possible to use RFID tags to sense movement or touch in near real-time. The low-cost tags could thus be incorporated into slider and rotary controls for games and toys, or for use in other applications that demand prompt response.Building interactive objects... 

Big Thinking in Small Pieces: Computer Guides Humans in Crowdsourced Research

Byron Spice Monday May 09, 2016
Getting a bunch of people to collectively research and write a coherent report without any one person seeing the big picture may seem akin to a group of toddlers producing Hamlet by randomly pecking at typewriters. But Carnegie Mellon University researchers have shown it actually works pretty well — if a computer guides the process.Their system, called the Knowledge Accelerator, uses a machine-learning program to sort and organize information uncovered by individuals focused on just a small segment of the larger project. It makes new assignments according to those findings, and creates a... 

Stephen Brookes Will Receive 2016 Gödel Prize

Byron Spice Monday May 09, 2016
Stephen Brookes, professor of computer science, and Peter W. O'Hearn, engineering manager at Facebook and professor of computer science at University College London, will receive the 2016 Gödel Prize for their invention of concurrent separation logic (CSL), a major advance in the design and analysis of programs that can take advantage of multicore and multiprocessor systems.Brookes and O'Hearn, then a professor of computer science at Queen Mary, University of London, collaborated on developing CSL and introduced the ideas in separate papers published in 2007."My congratulations to Steve... 

SkinTrack Technology Turns Arm Into Smartwatch Touchpad

Byron Spice Thursday May 05, 2016
Since the advent of smartwatches, technologists have been looking to expand interactions beyond the confines of the small watch face. A new wearable technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University suggests turning the entire lower arm into a touchpad.Called SkinTrack and developed by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute's Future Interfaces Group, the new system allows for continuous touch tracking on the hands and arms. It also can detect touches at discrete locations on the skin, enabling functionality similar to buttons or slider controls.Previous "skin to screen" approaches have...