Friday, November 20, 2009

Gaming Site Profiles Music Search Project

IGN Music profiled the electrical engineering music search engine project from the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band rank players based on how good they are at replicating a musical performance,while Herd It gives props based on how good they are at predicting the "herd's" opinion on the style, emotion, instrumentation, etc. of music. All of this happens in realtime via Facebook -- check out

They also embedded the music search engine YouTube video.

IGN is a leading Internet media and services provider focused on the videogame and entertainment enthusiast markets...lots of interested eyes!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Carbon Nanotubes for Cell Phone Batteries?

In a recent paper in Applied Physics Letters, Prabhakar Bandaru, a professor in the UCSD Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, along with graduate student Mark Hoefer, have found that artificially introduced defects in carbon nanotubes can aid the development of "supercapacitors" that could be used in batteries and battery charging technologies of the future.

Read Andrea Siedsma's full press release here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Walking AT work with "Active Desk"

Ernesto Ramirez has designed and built "Active Desk" — a raised work station connected to a standard treadmill that allows him to walk while he works. Ramirez is affiliated with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego. (Read the full story by Tiffany Fox from Calit2, excerpted below).

His project stems from a body of scientific research that links sedentary behavior (like sitting at a desk all day) with an elevated risk of mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular disease.

Currently located on the sixth floor of Calit2's headquarters in Atkinson Hall, the work station consists of a $200 Ikea desk and a $100 treadmill that allows the user to control his or her walking speed. Ramirez says his average pace is 1.5 miles per hour — fast enough to burn about 2.54 calories per minute, but not so fast that it makes him too breathless to have a conversation.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Caleb, the Data Mining Undergrad

Below is an email from a Jacobs School undergraduate who is taking advantage of the many research opportunities available to undergraduates at the Jacobs School and at UC San Diego, more generally.

My name is Caleb Sotelo; I'm a third year in pursuit of a BS in Computer Science, and an undergrad member of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center. This past summer I was funded by CAMP (California Alliance for Minority Participation) through UCSD's Academic Enrichment Programs office to find and engage in a research project for [CSE] 199 credit.

I decided I wanted to pursue data mining, without any substantial knowledge of the discipline. Finding a project was as easy as searching the CSE website for professors by their research interests. I met with computer science professor Charles Elkan, who recommended a project based on my experience with Java and software engineering.

I was privileged enough to receive a travel scholarship to present my research at the SACNAS National Conference in Dallas, TX, where I received an award for Outstanding Contribution and Research Presentation in the area of Computer and Information Technology. The software is now nearly release-ready, and we're hoping to submit a paper to a Machine Learning journal by the end of the month. My experience researching as a UCSD undergrad been excellent.

My mentor, Charles Elkan, has entrusted me with much responsibility and is eager to provide me with advice, resources, and more, and programs like AEP and SACNAS are invested in my success. The Jacobs School of Engineering is a top-notch engineering school and a rewarding place to invest your time; I would highly recommend taking 199 [Independent Study for Undergraduates] to any engineering student to get your feet wet.

Abstract below:


Caleb D. Sotelo, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA.
A typical challenge in data mining is the discovery of patterns that are actually interesting to the user, as opposed to patterns that are coincidental or already well-known. A solution to this problem is to create a system that allows the user to fluidly explore the rule space and facilitates discovery by users of significant patterns. One such system was proposed and implemented by Lei Zhang and others [1] for Motorola Inc., but to our knowledge no similar system exists as open source software. Rapidminer is a widely-used, highly functional, and robust open source data mining environment written in Java. We are developing a graphical interface extension to Rapidminer that will allow for intuitive and user-friendly pattern exploration, inspired by the Motorola system. Future work will add novel interactive capabilities.
[1] Zhang, L., Liu, B., Benkler, J., Zhou C. “Finding actionable knowledge via automated comparison.” IEEE ICDE, 2009.

Removing fog from video

Sunny San Diego has a foggy marine-layer side that never gets mentioned on national tv. The only way to get rid of the marine layer on some days is to drive east until it eventually disappears. When you have fog on your video, driving towards Julian is not an option...but that is where research from the video processing lab in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering comes in.

Kris Gibson gave me a quick description of his de-hazing for video at the poster session at the Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) recent Research Review (PDF of agenda).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Single Sensor in Your Camera? Your next camera might benefit from this kind of research...

Future single-sensor cameras will surely be better at sampling all the light bands (red, green, blue) even through there is just one sensor. Ankit Jain is an electrical engineering graduate student at UC San Diego who is working on this issue.

Watch him give you a snapshot of the issue, in less than two minutes!

Ankit talked to me at last week's poster session for the Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) research review. I also talked to Cynthia Taylor "Will Starbucks Serve Servers? aka Thin-Client Computing with your Skinny Latte?"

Video Stabilization with Haleh Azartash

Mini-Robots on KPBS Radio

The ocean robots that Jorge Cortes is designing control systems for wound up on KPBS radio yesterday. This attention comes on the heels of a pair of NSF to the mechanical and aerospace engineers developing the control systems, and one to the Scripps Insititution of Oceanography researchers who are developing the drifting robots.

The thing to remember about these robots is that they can't really move forward or backward. They can move up and down, but to move horizontally, they are at the mercy of the ocean currents...kind of like the current in Finding Nemo.
Photo credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tracking Oil Spills with Robots

Not that anyone WANTS another oil spill...but when there is one, it would be nice to have a better idea of where the ocean currents are going to carry the oil. Presumably, this information would be useful in damage mitigation as well as clean-up efforts.

This oil-spill-tracking-via-swarms-of-coordinated-robots idea gets fleshed out more in a press release out today from the Jacobs School of Engineering about an almost $1.5 million NSF grant to a team led by MAE associate professor Jorge Cortes. The funding will enable the engineers to figure out how to implement the controls systems that keep swarms of underwater ocean robots in the kinds of formations that will enable them to collect the data necessary to figure out what is going on with ocean currents in the area.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers who are also on the grant say that there is a whole heck of a lot that we don't know about these kilometer-scale ocean currents...and if we did know more, we could use that knowledge to better understand ocean process, to figure out where we need marine protected areas, and to really understand where sewage is going once it is pumped out into the ocean.

At the same time, those Scripps researchers are leading a related grant to further develop the ocean robots.

Image credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Monday, November 9, 2009

We're in the UCSD News...and (surprise) Blogging about It.

I guess it's impossible NOT to blog about the story that references this blog in This Week @ UCSD.

If you are new to the Jacobs School blog, stick around, click around and learn something new. If you're are part of the Jacobs School community (almni included of course) and have ideas about what you'd like to see on the blog, leave a comment or send me email at dbkane AT ucsd DOT edu

And while we're at it, check us out on Twitter at:

And on YouTube at:

...later on in the story...

Will Starbucks Serve Servers?

Would you like thin-client computing with your skinny latte?

Tech-savy baristas may be asking you these kinds of questions, if the thin-client research that computer science PhD student Cynthia Taylor is working on takes off. At the poster session at the Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) research review on Friday, Taylor gave me a quick rundown on her research.

Take home message: she wants to turn your iPhone (and related PDAs and comm devices) into an input/output device that hooks into local servers as well as servers across the Web. This would let you do all kinds of things that are too demanding for the local computational resources of a PDA.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Window into Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) Poster Session

This is the first of four informal interviews with graduate students who presented at the UC San Diego Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) poster session today. The poster session was part of the CWC Research Review (PDF of agenda here), which happens twice per year. (Info of past reviews is here.)

This first interview is with Haleh Azartash, who is a graduate student in electrical engineering professor Dr. Truong Nguyen's Video Processing Group.

Her poster describes her work on software and algorithmic methods for minimizing and eliminating camera motion and shake in video footage: Real Time Affine Global Estimation using Phase Correlation

iPhone app with UCSD Roots Named One of 10 Best Apps by Gizmodo

The TowerMadness roll continues...Gizmodo named them one of the week's best iPhone apps. The fact that they created a free version of the game that is supported by ads that are "not very annoying" seems popular with the blogosphere.'s amazing the things you learn when you don't turn off a Google Alert.

Hey Jacobs School?! What/who else (related to engineering) should we be monitoring via Google Alerts?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jacobs School on YouTube

Do you know of any Jacobs-School-related videos that you think should be on the Jacobs School of Engineering YouTube channel? Let me know. dbkane AT ucsd DOT edu

Bit by bit, I am transfering videos to one YouTube video channel:

Below is a video profile of Jacobs School electrical engineering professor Pam Cosman.

IEEE Xtreme 3.0

A team of Jacobs School undergrads calling themselves "Team 'The Bagpipe Lubricators'" placed 16th overall (and 6th from United States) in a 24-hour online computer programming contest run by IEEE called IEEE Xtreme 3.0.

The official IEEE results page highlights how two Jacobs School computer programming teams finished in the top 25. The Bagpipe Lubricators finished 16th in the world, and Team XYZZY finished 19th in the world. 700 teams registered.

Jordan Ree is the caption of the Bagpipe Lubricators, and Elliot Slaughter is captain of XYZZY. I'll update this posting with the full names of both of these teams, when I get that info.

These two Jacobs School teams finished first and second in the region.

The Mountain Dew can and empty pizza boxes are great.

Jacobs School Photo Contest!! Deadline is Dec 4

Break out the cameras and start taking pictures of life at the Jacobs School. It's time for the Jacobs School student photo contest...brought to you by Engineering Student Services (ESS). All engineering students are invited to submit up to two (2) high resolution digital photos that somehow fit into the theme "Triton Engineering: Location, Innovation, Celebration!"

Note to Photoshop-fiends, Picasa-pros, and Gimp-Geniuses: you're NOT ALLOWED to digitally alter your photos after you take the picture. So think ahead and do all the cool effects on the front end, WHEN you take the picture. It's more fun that way. (And read all the fine print here...not that there is much to say...)

I'm excited to see what comes in. Every time I leave my office, I see something and think, "that would make a great photo."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Music Search Engine Video Featured by Technology Review

Technology Review featured the music search engine video from the Jacobs School on their Technology Review editors blog. What's cool is that the video includes a past winner of Technology Review's "TR 35" a prestigious list of top young innovators: UC San Diego computer science professor Serge Belongie. Serge sings and plays guitar with his band S03 in the second video clip of the YouTube video. Learn more about S03 on their myspace page:

Learn more about Serge Belongie's computer science research at:

But that's not all. One of professor Belongie's Ph.D. students is Carolina Galleguillos, the vocalist for Juna and the first performer you see in the Jacobs School music search video (in the silver dress). I also interview Galleguillos later on in the be sure to watch through to the end...the video ends with her.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Your Cool Project Here!

Are you a Jacobs School student (present or past)? Are you a Jacobs School faculty member or staffer (or otherwise affililated with the Jacobs School)? Do you have an interesting story to tell? Send me email and let's get the conversation started. This is the Jacobs School blog. This is your blog.

dbkane AT UCSD DOT edu

TowerMadness Zero and "the Apple Blog"

On Halloween 2009, the Apple Blog featured TowerMadness, an iPhone app and game with roots in computer science at UC San Diego (see the story I wrote about TowerMadness here).

The team of iPhone app developers doesn't ever seem to slow down. They recently launched, "TowerMadness Zero", a free version of their award-winning tower-defense 3D game.

We recently featured TowerMadness in the Fall 2009 issue of the Jacobs School alumni magazine, Pulse. Check out the Pulse Towermadness story here...but to get the full effect, check out the graphic layout in the print version of Pulse and navigate down to page 14.

Twitter is a good place to get your TowerMadness fix.

Solar Video: Grad Students Help San Diego Get $154M in Bonds to Install Solar

Watch a video interview with Jan Kleissl and Michael Gollner and Karl Olney, two of the key Jacobs School grad students who helped San Diego get more than $154 M in bonds for installing solar in San Diego.

Update: Weds Nov 4

This story is now one of the rotating news stories on Check out the screen shot below.

Pumking Carving, LEDs, and IEEE Fun at UCSD Jacobs

Next year, I hope someone tries to carve out some equation related to LED illumination...something like of the speed of light travelling from the LED to the pumpkin face.

See many more photos on the IEEE Web site:
LED pumpkin carving at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering was organized by the UCSD student chapter of IEEE. Be sure to check out the UCSD IEEE Web page for the latest news, photos and videos.