Information Technology

Most Recent Inventions

Physics ‘Office Hours’ educational learning platform

A physics education researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has designed a novel and interactive app-based study aid platform for students in STEM disciplines. The platform’s interface is built around education research into how students conceptualize problems they do not understand. It is a novel tool to help students see why they are struggling with a particular problem, and what might help them solve it, rather than solving the problem for them. The team’s first working prototype, the Physics Office Hours app, has been designed for use in introductory-level college physics. The app is designed to mimic a scenario students might face during ‘office hours’ with a professor: Rather than offering an answer, the instructor guides the students through problems via a series of questions. A user-friendly online interface allows app content to be easily updated and changed over time and as more problem sets become available. In addition, the app architecture can easily be adapted to problem sets in other STEM disciplines and therefore serves as a platform technology.

Virtual Touch Screens: New Input for Smaller Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new virtual touch screen technology utilizing unused space to the side of a device display. The technology is a low-cost passive finger localization system based on visible light sensing. It provides a simple and convenient interface that does not require additional external equipment such as a sensor attached to the finger.

A sensor system on the edge of a mobile device uses photodetectors and a light source to track finger motion based on reflected light signals within the narrow light-sensing plane of the virtual touch screen. The signals are converted to orthogonal coordinates and subsequently output to the graphics display screen.

Optimized Nanoresonator Design Signals Breakthroughs in Spectrometry and Device Efficiency

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method and structure for increasing the cross section of nanoresonators, thereby improving the concentration ratio of light (or other electromagnetic radiation) and device performance. The key to their approach is that the nanoresonator is surrounded by a material that provides increased light concentration.

New Software Algorithm Advances Measurement Technology in Agribusiness

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new scanning algorithm for use in assessing yield and quality of crop production.

To determine characteristics such as kernel loading on an ear of corn and ear size, researchers scan up to three ears at a time using a common flatbed scanner. To measure 100 kernel weight, another common yield measurement, researchers weigh a handful of individual kernels and scatter them on the scanner. The resulting images are then analyzed using the algorithm to quickly provide yield data.

The algorithm uses a thresholding technique to separate the ears from the background and a Fourier transform to more accurately estimate kernel length. It also corrects for individual kernels clustering together.

Architecture for Speculative Parallel Execution Improves Performance, Simplifies Programming

UW–Madison researchers have developed a system that permits speculative execution of program tasks prior to determining data dependency. Before commitment of the tasks in a sequential execution order, data dependencies are resolved through a token system that tracks read and write access to data elements accessed by the program portions.

Eliminating the need to wait until late in the program execution to detect or resolve dependencies helps improve processor utilization. Advancing the execution of tasks that ultimately do not experience data dependency problems may have a ripple-through effect, reducing later data dependencies as well.

Most Recent Patents

Improved Mobile User Localization

A UW–Madison researcher has developed a localization method using sparse angle-delay channel signatures. The new method exploits both LoS and non-LoS propagation paths for improved performance.

Using measured channel signatures, a statistical pattern classifier is designed to determine a device’s location from the signals that it sends to the base station. Pattern matching is performed on the signal received at the base station using a database of statistical classifier information, and finally a location is computed. The database is based on various ‘cells’ or ‘regions’ that are used to decrease complexity during the pattern matching.

Middlebox Scaling for the Cloud

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method that efficiently adjusts the number of middleboxes on demand by transferring not only the flows of instructions but their related middlebox states as well. A new transfer process prevents the loss of data packets and preserves order.

Algorithm Improves Resolution of Time-Frequency Analysis for Medical Diagnostics, Telecommunications

UW-Madison researchers have developed a pseudo-wavelet algorithm known as the “damped-oscillator oscillator detector” (DOOD). This algorithm is unique among all wavelet and pseudo-wavelet algorithms in that it is the only algorithm that is explicitly based on modeling data as a “driving force” that interacts with a hypothetical set of mathematical oscillators. In the DOOD algorithm, an entirely new spectral density can be defined as the time rate of change in the energy specifically due to interaction with the data driving force, referred to as the data power. The data power measure is more sensitive to the presence or absence of data oscillators than traditional energy measures.

The DOOD algorithm allows an enormous frequency range to be spanned over as many orders of magnitude as desired. The instantaneous phase of oscillation and correlation functions can be calculated easily. The inverse of the DOOD transform is accomplished readily, which means that the DOOD algorithm also can be used to compress data. Any time-frequency or correlation analysis that can be accomplished by conventional means also can be accomplished using the DOOD algorithm, with the advantages of greater flexibility in defining the frequency range and better time resolution.