D-STOP Researchers Present at SXSW’s First UT Village
In keeping with the D-STOP research mission, CTR and WNCG (Wireless Networking and Communications Group) researchers collaborated to present their cutting-edge work on connected vehicles, 3D maps, and Big Data during the first-ever UT Village at SXSW Interactive 2015. This event featured panels and interactive research demonstrations and was open to all SXSW Interactive Badge Holders. See the CTR photo album.
Held at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in downtown Austin on March 15, UT Village showcased UT Austin’s inventors, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. The day’s five panels tackled topics ranging from predictive digital maps and big data to driverless cars and 3-D printing. Following the panels was an Innovation Showcase, where some of the university’s newly developed technologies—augmented reality tech, electronic skin tattoos, an “invisibility cloak,” and a robotic exoskeleton —were on display as interactive exhibits.
The first panel of the day, Digital Austin: 3D Maps Predict What Is Ahead, featured CTR researchers Fernanda Leite and Christian Claudel, joined by UT Austin’s David Maidment and Allan Shearer. The panelists discussed their efforts to demonstrate cutting-edge mapping techniques through Digital Austin, a public-private initiative aimed at creating a 3D map of the city that details urban topography, municipal infrastructure, building-specific information, and even neighborhood-level measurements of air pollution. These researchers are putting high-resolution spatial recognition software and Big Data to use in their development of advanced 3D models that accurately predict the interplay between flood events, energy, water, transportation, pollution exposure, infectious disease transmission, and more. These databases and models may be revolutionary in terms of the design of high-performing and sustainable city systems.
D-STOP researchers collaborated on the 12:30 panel Connected Vehicles: Challenges and Possibilities. CVs are becoming a more urgent topic as the supporting technology becomes ever more developed. The panelists—CTR’s Chandra Bhat and Mike Walton, and the WNCG’s Robert Heath and Todd Humphreys—broke down the technologies, challenges, and benefits of the connected car. Connected technologies allow cars to talk to each other, as well as talk to the surrounding transportation infrastructure (traffic lights, satellites, sensors, etc.) using wireless technology. By providing real-time traffic, transit, and parking data, these technologies open up opportunities to reduce traffic, accidents, and pollution. At the same time, the new connectivity also brings to light new privacy and security issues that include the potential for car hackers.
The day’s last panel, Making Big Data More Digestible, featured WNCG researchers Alex Dimakis, Constantine Caramanis, Joydeep Ghosh, and Sriram Vishwanath. The average broadband and cellular users now spend more time in online social networks than in face-to-face interactions with people other than their immediate families. Social networks tend to create tight-knit groups characterized by a high density of connections, and these connections are often good predictors of users’ tastes and future connections. However, finding these communities is both computationally and statistically challenging. The WNCG developed a new graph-clustering technique that helps with community detection, user profiling, link prediction, and collaborative filtering. This technique enables researchers to both reach globally optimal solutions with better statistical properties and provide an algorithm that easily scales.