Ahuja receives HP Labs Innovation Research Award

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By Tom Moone, ECE Illinois
August 21, 2008

  • Professor Narendra Ahuja is working to generate a high resolution three-dimensional map of indoor environments.
  • This could be used for visually cuing commands to appliances and devices in the room or video conferencing.
  • HP reviewed more than 450 proposals from 200 universities in 28 countries on a range of topics.

Narendra  Ahuja
Narendra Ahuja

On August 14, HP Labs announced that ECE Professor Narendra Ahuja received an HP Labs Innovation Research Program Award for his proposal "3D Reconstruction of Dynamic Real-World Objects and 3D Motion Aided Gesture Recognition."

Ahuja, who is a Donald Biggar Willet Professor of Engineering said, "Our project is to build a three-dimensional map of indoor environments, for example, a living room." The project will focus on meeting such challenges as posed by the ubiquitous indoor presence of reflective surfaces like windows, poorly lit areas such as shadows, and textureless surfaces like flat walls, in determining this map. Ahuja and his group will develop approaches that take as input pairs of static stereo images, pairs of stereo video sequences, and low resolution depth grids from recently introduced high-speed range sensors, and combine this information to generate a high resolution three-dimensional map, including any dynamics of moving objects.

Potential applications would include visually cuing commands to appliances and devices in the room, such as TV, thermostat and lights. Another major application is in video conferencing. "The environmental map will help improve the quality and bandwidth needs of video transmission by allowing the teleconferencing system to focus on producing good images of the participants while downplaying their less relevant surround," said Ahuja.

In a press release from HP Labs, ECE alumnus Prith Banerjee (MSEE ’83, PhD ’85), who is senior vice president of research at HP and director of HP Labs said, "Around the world, HP partners with the best and the brightest in industry and academia to drive open innovation and set the agenda for breakthrough technologies that are designed to change the world."

HP reviewed more than 450 proposals from 200 universities in 28 countries on a range of topics within the five principal research themes at HP Labs: intelligent infrastructure, sustainability, information explosion, dynamic cloud services and content transformation. A key element of each award will be on-campus support for one graduate student researcher, who will also be eligible to apply to the HP Labs internship program in 2009. More details about The HP Labs Innovation Research Program and worldwide award recipients are available at www.hpl.hp.com/open_innovation/irp/index.html.

Ahuja has been at Illinois since 1979 and has performed research in a number of areas, including computer vision, robotics, image processing, sensors, pattern recognition, virtual environments, and intelligent interfaces. He has received numerous awards for his work, including a 1984 Presidential Young Investigator Award, a 1985 University Scholar Award, a 1998 Technology Achievement Award from SPIE, and a 1999 Emanuel R. Piore Award from IEEE. He is a Fellow of numerous scientific societies, including IEEE, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the International Association for Pattern Recognition, SPIE, the Association for Computing Machinery, and AAAS.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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