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Faculty receive Ubicomp’s 10-Year Impact Award

September 18, 2017

From left: Gregory Abowd, Julie Kientz, Shwetak Patel, and Award Chair Judy Kay.

UW professors have been awarded the 10-Year Impact Award at Ubicomp 2017 for their paper “At the Flick of a Switch: Detecting and Classifying Unique Electrical Events on the Residential Power Line.”

UW faculty include Electrical Engineering and Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering Professors Shwetak Patel and Matt Reynolds and Human Centered Design & Engineering Professor Julie Kentz. Additional authors include Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Professor Gregory Bowd and research scientist Thomas Robertson.

The 10-Year Impact Award recognizes research that has made a lasting impact in the field. In 2007, the authors’ published work received the Best Paper Award and Best Presentation Award at Ubicomp.

The paper illustrates a novel approach for detecting energy activity within the home using a single plug-in sensor. The authors apply machine learning techniques to enable the system to accurately differentiate between different electrical events, such as turning on a specific light switch or operating certain appliances.

Professor Matt Reynolds

This work has been instrumental in the development of a new field of research in high-frequency energy disaggregation and infrastructure mediated sensing. It has also led to the creation of Zensi, a startup spun out of Georgia Tech and UW that was acquired by Belkin in 2010. Home energy monitoring and automation have become an industry focus based on the techniques first described in this paper.

When the paper was written, Patel and Kientz were Ph.D. students, and Reynolds was a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech. Ten years later, their work has not only influenced their current research, but it offers a touchstone for other researchers around the world.