RASL Members Win 2017 TechVenture Challenge

Alava - TVC Winners

RASL members Nilanjan Sarkar and Joshua Wade took part in the 2017 TechVenture Challenge with their technology Alva: a gaze-sensitive driving simulator designed specifically for driving training in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The two were joined by veteran business mentor Kei Gowda and a team of Vanderbilt students from various departments including business, public policy, and engineering.

The TechVenture Challenge aims to provide both graduate and undergraduate students from a number of different disciplines with immersive, real-world commercialization experience. The pitch finals, which were held on April 13th in Nashville, consisted of five teams presenting their technologies. Team Alva took first place, earning a $3500 cash prize!

Alva, the novel technology, received attention last year from national media outlets (video above). A number of peer-reviewed journal articles based on the technology have recently been published:

  1. J. Wade, L. Zhang, D. Bian, J. Fan, A. Swanson, A. Weitlauf, M. Sarkar, Z. Warren, and N. Sarkar, “A Gaze-Contingent Adaptive Virtual Reality Driving Environment for Intervention in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems (TiiS), vol. 6, p. 3, 2016.
  2. L. Zhang, J. Wade, D. Bian, J. Fan, A. Swanson, A. Weitlauf, Z. Warren, and N. Sarkar, “Cognitive Load Measurement in a Virtual Reality-Based Driving System for Autism Intervention,” IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, vol. 8, pp. 176-189, 2017.
  3. J. Wade, A. Weitlauf, N. Broderick, A. Swanson, L. Zhang, D. Bian, M. Sarkar, Z. Warren, and N. Sarkar, “A Pilot Study Assessing Performance and Visual Attention of Teenagers with ASD in a Novel Adaptive Driving Simulator,” Journal of autism and developmental disorders, July 29 2017, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3261-7
  4. J. Fan, J. Wade, A. Key, Z. Warren, and N. Sarkar, “EEG-based Affect and Workload Recognition in a Virtual Driving Environment for ASD Intervention,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, DOI: 10.1109/TBME.2017.2693157