September/October 2006 Newsletter

Dear Readers,

As the Deshpande Center approaches its 4th year of operation, I am excited to take the baton from Krisztina Holly who launched the center and built it to be a recognized and impressive organization. The Center has achieved great accomplishments in its early years, successfully establishing itself as an influential part of MIT's innovation ecosystem.

Since its founding four years ago the center has received over 300 proposals from MIT faculty, and we have funded over 50 projects, involving hundreds of faculty, students and volunteers. We will be announcing our Fall 2006 awards on October 10th, and as you would expect, the projects are exciting and innovative, with great potential. We will continue to actively engage with our grantees, via our outside catalyst program and the i-Teams course, and help them move along the road to commercialize their technologies. We also plan to reach out to more members of the MIT faculty to encourage their creative endeavors, and invite them to submit proposals for our assistance.

We are fortunate to be part of the MIT and greater Boston innovation and entrepreneurial environments and I look forward to continuing our engagement with both of them.

Best regards,
Leon Sandler

In This Issue

  • Project Profile: Replicating the Human Visual System to Perform Computer Vision Tasks
  • Fall 2006 i-Teams Begins: Five Projects Will Be The Subject of This Semester's Class
  • Spring 2007 Call for Proposals: Pre-Proposals are Due October 16th
  • Stay Tuned! Fall 2006 Grant Award Announcement

Project Profile: Replicating the Human Visual System to Perform Computer Vision Tasks

The explosion of digital still and video data has created a problem: how do you easily tag and categorize all the images? In a world concerned with security, increasing amounts of surveillance video are being captured. There is a need to automatically process this video to extract useful information about people and objects.

These are challenging problems requiring an innovative solution; perfectly suited for Deshpande Center funding. So when Brain and Cognitive Sciences Professor Tomaso Poggio proposed we support his team's work on new software that can analyze these images, we did.

The “Artificial Visual Cortex” project, builds on work done at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. The team has developed a versatile software system that excels at people and car detection, biometric face recognition, automatic image indexing in search applications, and consumer photography analysis.

This project, while an ideal candidate for Deshpande funding, has followed an unusual Deshpande path. The team was awarded a short-term, out-of-cycle grant beginning in June; however they had already participated in the i-Teams class for the Spring 2006 semester.

“I was interested in Professor Poggio's work, and he introduced me to the Post-Doc's driving the project. After meeting Stan Bileschi and Lior Wolf, it seemed like a good fit for the class” says Ken Zolot, faculty director for the i-Team's class.

Stan says, “We learned a lot through the i-Teams process and we were excited to be awarded the Deshpande Center funding in order to develop demo systems to illustrate our advantage in the markets identified through the i-Teams class: surveillance, image database management, and consumer gallery interface.”

In addition to developing the demo system, Stan and Lior are working with Deshpande Center Executive Director Leon Sandler to further narrow down the best target market and identify and connect with potential customers and partners.

Fall 2006 i-Teams Begins: Five Projects Will Be The Subject of This Semester's Class

i-Teams is a collaborative effort between the Deshpande Center and the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. Each semester, we select several research projects and build high performance student teams for each; the students evaluate commercial feasibility and develop go-to-market strategies for the innovations.

Projects participating in this semester's class are:

  • Catalytic particles for rapid decontamination in carbon filters and clothing
  • Innovations in International Health - The Phase Change Incubator
  • Improved safety helmets
  • Microinjector for gene therapy and proteomics
  • Ultra low power circuits

Spring 2007 Call for Proposals: Pre-Proposals are Due October 16th

Pre-Proposals for the Spring 2007 Grant Round are due October 16th. The three-page pre-proposals must be submitted by October 16, 2006 at 5 p.m.

Funding must be for research done in MIT laboratories. Proposals must be submitted by a faculty member at MIT (exceptions for sponsored research staff that are accorded principal investigator status). Outside and cross-disciplinary collaborations are welcome!

For a list of our previously funded projects, visit our research portfolio.