NSF invests $1 million in smartphone-based system for mobile infectious disease detection and epidemiology

10/20/2015 - 9:19am

From transportation to healthcare, service systems make our lives easier and more productive on a daily basis. New technologies that learn from data are bringing intelligence to service systems, allowing them to center on people by incorporating individuals' feedback and input. These systems create more value through adaptive and individualized interactions.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $10 million in such systems, supporting innovative new partnership projects to create service systems that are smart and human-centric.

Pathtracker: A smartphone-based system for mobile infectious disease detection and epidemiology, led by Brian Cunningham, Donald Biggar Willett Professor in Bioengineering and in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois, is one of 10 funded projects for this year. The research team, which includes co-principal investigators Rashid Bashir (BIOE), Steven Lumetta (ECE), Ian Brooks (NCSA), and David Hirschberg (University of Washington at Seattle), will receive $1 million to develop a mobile sensor technology for performing detection and identification of viral and bacterial pathogens.

By means of a smartphone-based detection instrument, the results are shared with a cloud-based data management service that will enable physicians to rapidly visualize the geographical and temporal spread of infectious disease. When deployed by a community of medical users (such as veterinarians or point-of-care clinicians), the PathTracker system will enable rapid determination and reporting of instances of infectious disease that can inform treatment and quarantine responses that are currently not possible with tests performed at central laboratory facilities.

"Smart, human-centered service systems offer unprecedented new economic opportunities and societal benefits, whether to an individual seeking personalized medical care or to a utility company managing energy demands," said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering. "Bringing new technologies, and new system design thinking and human factors together can lead to services we are just beginning to imagine."

The interdisciplinary projects will engage academia and the private sector in highly interactive collaborations. Partners will advance, adapt and integrate novel smart technologies for service systems in ways that dramatically improve performance.

"Partnerships between academia and industry supported through these projects can help to translate innovative research and emerging technologies into smart service systems, which will help to enable smart and connected communities of the future," said Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

This year, NSF funded 10 Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) projects for smart, human-centered service systems:

  • Pathtracker: A smartphone-based system for mobile infectious disease detection and epidemiology: Brian Cunningham of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, principal investigator.
  • A smart service system (ESPnet) for enhanced monitoring and management of toxic algal blooms: Donald Anderson of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, principal investigator.
  • A smart, always-on health monitoring system: YongGang Huang of Northwestern University, principal investigator.
  • Smart CROwdsourced Urban Delivery (CROUD) system: Yu Nie of Northwestern University, principal investigator.
  • Developing advanced resilient microgrid technology to improve disaster response capability: Thomas Ortmeyer of Clarkson University, principal investigator.
  • Human-centered smart-integration of mobile imaging and sensing tools with machine learning for ubiquitous quantification of waterborne and airborne nanoparticles: Aydogan Ozcan of the University of California, Los Angeles, principal investigator.
  • Adaptive robotic nursing assistants for physical tasks in hospital environments: Dan Popa of the University of Texas at Arlington, principal investigator.
  • Utility-driven smart energy services: Prashant Shenoy of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, principal investigator.
  • Cyber-physical service system for 3-D printing of adaptive custom orthoses: Albert Shih of the University of Michigan, principal investigator.
  • A cost-effective accurate and resilient indoor positioning system: Bruno Sinopoli of Carnegie Mellon University, principal investigator.

NSF's Fiscal Year 2015 investment in PFI:BIC is a collaboration among the directorates for Engineering (ENG), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and Geosciences. In FY 2014, ENG and CISE funded 11 PFI:BIC projects for smart service systems. Investments from the PFI:BIC program were announced as part of NSF's commitments at a White House event launching the National Smart Cities Initiative.