Google Funds Research on Mobile Sensing at UW, Energy Efficiency at UC San Diego

With all the froth around big tech company earnings, device announcements, and mobile app stores, it’s refreshing to see some long-term research in computing being funded. Google announced today it has awarded $1.35 million ($900,000 up front) to the University of Washington for work on mobile data collection for public health and environmental monitoring, and $100,000 to UC San Diego, for research on energy efficiency.

The awards are part of $5.7 million in the first Google Focused Awards Grants being given to a dozen projects led by 31 professors at 10 universities in the U.S. and U.K. The areas of research also include machine learning and privacy. The grants are for two to three years, and give the recipients “access to Google tools, technologies and expertise,” according to a blog post by Alfred Spector, Google’s vice president of research and special initiatives.

The UW grant is to computer science professor (and former Intel Research Seattle director) Gaetano Borriello, in collaboration with Deborah Estrin at UCLA. (Wade and I have previously reported on the work of these two professors in wireless sensor networks.) The new grant is for researching the use of mobile phones as data collection devices for public health and environmental monitoring applications.

“Here at Google Seattle, we deeply appreciate our strong relationship with the University of Washington,” said Brian Bershad, Google Seattle’s engineering director (and former UW computer science professor), in a statement. “With this focused research award, we see an example of how that collaboration and recognition extends broadly across Google.”

Meanwhile, the UCSD grant to computer scientists Tajana Simunic Rosing, Steven Swanson, and Amin Vahdat, is for studying energy efficiency in computing. Energy efficiency has been among the topics of interest at the UC San Diego campus of Calit2, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. Calit2 director Larry Smarr views global warming as a serious environmental threat, and has highlighted efforts at UCSD and elsewhere to make data centers and other IT operations more energy-efficient.

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