Technologies

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.
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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.
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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.
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New Isogeometric Analysis Software for Seamless Integration of Design and Analysis

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method for creating a CAD-compatible mesh during an isogeometric analysis process. Unlike existing techniques, the method creates meshes without any approximation and delivers optimal convergence rates.

In essence, the researchers have developed a smoothing step that prevents inconsistencies from being introduced into the meshing process as a geometric map of the object is being refined.
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Detecting Seismic S Waves with Unprecedented Accuracy

UW–Madison researchers have developed an automatic and extremely accurate method for detecting features of interest in seismic data, including S waves and P waves. Unlike currently available (and error-prone) phase detection methods, the new software identifies potential picks in a single pass through the data without needing to estimate parameters or build a model. Seismic features are identified based on their similarity to a reference set of examples.

The software utilizes a k-nearest neighbors approach. This approach is based on a nonparametric time series classification method.
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Most Recent Patents

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.
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Imaging Technique for Recognizing Hand Gestures & Other Micromotions in 3-D

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new imaging technique that analyzes speckle patterns to track extremely small 3-D motions on the order of 10-100 microns. This technique enables, for the first time, precise 3-D measurement of multiple moving objects using low-cost, off-the-shelf components.
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Increasing Memory Bandwidth

UW–Madison researchers have developed a system to substantially increase memory bus bandwidth by combining a parallel memory bus with a high-speed serial memory bus. A serial memory bus normally introduces too much latency (data delay) for general computer processors, but this can be accommodated using special processors like GPUs or streaming processors.

By selectively steering some memory traffic to the serial memory bus, total memory bandwidth is significantly increased while still providing low latency when needed via the parallel memory bus.
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