Vanderbilt, Ohio State receive $3.1M NIH grant to develop social robots to encourage activity among older adults

Researchers from Vanderbilt University and The Ohio State University are teaming up to develop next-generation robotic technology that can help older adults living with forms of dementia through a grant from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year grant, totaling $3.13 million, will support research and development of robotic framework and methodologies that encourage social interaction among older adults in long term care (LTC) facilities like nursing homes and independent or assisted living facilities.

The research will be conducted jointly with Lorraine Mion, professor of nursing at The Ohio State University and former Independence Foundation Professor in Nursing at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. The multidisciplinary team includes engineers, nurses, physicians, and health services researchers from Vanderbilt and Ohio State.

 


Sarkar will Lead New $1M Convergence Accelerator Project Funded by the National Science Foundation!

RASL Director Dr. Nilanjan Sarkar will serve as Principal Investigator of a new project entitled “Convergence Accelerator Phase I: Empowering Neurodiverse Populations for Employment through Inclusion AI and Innovation Science.

The project is part of a brand new funding mechanism from the National Science Foundation called the NSF Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel). This mechanism is designed to rapidly advance innovation in the areas of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas initiative.

Sarkar’s project aims to address the significant challenge of barriers to employment for people on the autism spectrum. The project has been awarded $1M in Phase 1, which spans 9 months beginning in September 2019.

This multi-site project includes partners at Yale, Georgia Tech, Cornell, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the newly endowed Frist Center for Autism and Innovation.


Latest RASL grad Jing Fan now at Google

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In May, RASL’s Jing Fan successfully defended her dissertation, entitled “Models of Adaptation in Intelligent Human-Machine Interaction and Their Applications to Elder Care and Autism Spectrum Disorder Intervention“.

Now Jing has accepted a position at Google as a software engineer in Mountain View, CA.

At Vanderbilt, Jing’s work focused on the application of Robotics to improve the lives of a variety of populations, including older adults and individuals on the autism spectrum.


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Recap of HCI International 2019 in Orlando, FL

RASL members Deeksha Adiani and Joshua Wade presented several papers at the 21st International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction this week in Orlando, FL. The conference was held from Friday, July 26 to Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in Orlando, FL.

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Deeksha–RASL’s newest graduate student–presented a paper entitled “Design of a Novel Web Utility that Provides Multi-lingual Word Definitions for Child E-Book Applications” [2].

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RASL alum Zhi Zheng was also in attendance at the conference, allowing for a brief reunion.

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Joshua chaired two of the conference sessions this year: Language Learning Technologies on Tuesday, July 30 and Technologies for ASD – 2 on Wednesday, July 31. In addition Joshua presented three papers [1,3,4]. A full list of the lab members’ presentations is given below.

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  1. Adiani D. et al. (2019) Usability Enhancement and Functional Extension of a Digital Tool for Rapid Assessment of Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Toddlers Based on Pilot Test and Interview Data. In: Antona M., Stephanidis C. (eds) Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Multimodality and Assistive Environments. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11573. Springer, Cham
  2. Adiani D. et al. (2019) Design of a Novel Web Utility that Provides Multi-lingual Word Definitions for Child E-Book Applications. In: Zaphiris P., Ioannou A. (eds) Learning and Collaboration Technologies. Ubiquitous and Virtual Environments for Learning and Collaboration. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11591. Springer, Cham
  3. Nie G., Ullal A., Swanson A.R., Weitauf A.S., Warren Z.E., Sarkar N. (2019) Design of an Intelligent and Immersive System to Facilitate the Social Interaction Between Caregivers and Young Children with Autism. In: Antona M., Stephanidis C. (eds) Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Multimodality and Assistive Environments. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11573. Springer, Cham
  4. Sarkar N., Zheng Z.K. (2019) Design and Validation of a Tremor Stabilizing Handle for Patients with Parkinson Disease and Essential Tremor. In: Duffy V. (eds) Digital Human Modeling and Applications in Health, Safety, Ergonomics and Risk Management. Healthcare Applications. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11582. Springer, Cham
  5. Schmidt M. et al. (2019) A Simple Web Utility for Automatic Speech Quantification in Dyadic Reading Interactions. In: Zaphiris P., Ioannou A. (eds) Learning and Collaboration Technologies. Ubiquitous and Virtual Environments for Learning and Collaboration. HCII 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11591. Springer, Cham

RASL Presents at Symposium hosted by New Vanderbilt Autism Initiative

In August, a new Vanderbilt-led initiative entitled the “Vanderbilt Initiative for Autism, Innovation, and the Workforce” launched with a primary goal of facilitating the transition of adolescents with Autism into stable paid employment. This past Friday, the new group hosted a University-wide symposium to discuss a range of Autism-related research going on at Vanderbilt.

The “Vanderbilt Surprising Connections in Autism and Innovation” symposium, held at Peabody Commons, included speakers from the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, and the Owen Graduate School of Management, as well as nearly two dozen poster presentations.

RASL members Zhabo Zheng, Dayi Bian, Guangtao Nie, Joshua Wade, and Huan Zhao presented posters for a variety of projects a the event.