Project Milestones

Newly Funded Projects

Fall 2021 – Passive Radiative Heat Pump Surfaces for Urban Cooling: From Laboratory to Field Testing

Fall 2021 – Passive Radiative Heat Pump Surfaces for Urban Cooling: From Laboratory to Field Testing

Project Director David Sailor

In response to the positive publicity generated by the Zimin Institute project, the project team was invited by the ASU-led Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) initiative funded by the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority (MCIDA) at ASU for a proposal for a follow-on scale-up study. The HUE is focused on convening and translating evidence-based research and evaluation of heat mitigation and air-quality management efforts intro useful solutions that can be implemented across Maricopa County. The team’s work on their Zimin Institute funded project is aligned with that focus, and their subsequent proposal to design, deploy and test a cool ramada in a city park has been funded by both HUE ($96K) and 3M ($73K). 3M has also recently approved an additional $40K (for a total of $113K) for scaling studies over the next ~2 years.

Fall 2021 – Softlight: Chemical free technology for water softening

Fall 2021 – Softlight: Chemical free technology for water softening

Project Director Paul Westerhoff

The team recently secured a $50K grant from healthcare giant Baxter International to perform a Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) of their innovative Softlight chemical-free water softening technology for in-home dialysis units with integrated water treatment.  The TEA model subsequently developed by the team showed that Softlight has a ~5x lower cost than commercially-available ion exchange or membrane technologies.  In addition, the model revealed the key cost drivers in the new novel technology; this insight ensures that future development work will focus on economically-relevant improvements.

Fall 2021 – A data-driven approach for water safety plans in sustainable buildings to predict and prevent disease

Fall 2021 – A data-driven approach for water safety plans in sustainable buildings to predict and prevent disease

Project Director Kerry Hamilton

The project team has partnered with the New York State Department of Health; they will provide in-kind support in the amount of ~$10K to install sensors and collect data in healthcare facilities in New York, while we will gather data in parallel with the Zimin Institute sponsored project.

 

Technical Milestones

Fall 2021 – Storytelling Robots for Older Adults Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Fall 2021 – Storytelling Robots for Older Adults Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Project Director Troy McDaniel

Our story-telling robots project originally aimed at assisting caregivers for Alzheimer’s sufferers has broadened to dealing with seniors’ loneliness and isolation in the era of COVID.   In this expansion of scope and scale, a new partnership with Mirabella Independent Living has been established.  Initial studies with Mirabella residents revealed encouraging results: people open up with the robot and undertake deep levels of conversation; interactions are described as meaningful and fun; some perceive facial expression in the robots; some consider the robot to be a friend.

August 2021 – Storytelling Robots for Older Adults Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers

August 2021 – Storytelling Robots for Older Adults Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Project Director Troy McDaniel

The newly-published book entitled Multimedia for Accessible Human Computer Interfaces, edited by Troy McDaniel and Xueliang Liu (ISBN-10: 3030707156), is a comprehensive tour of human-assistive technologies.  This major work is the first resource to provide in-depth coverage on topical areas of multimedia computing (images, video, audio, speech, haptics, VR/AR, etc.) for accessible and inclusive human computer interfaces. Topics are grouped into thematic areas spanning the human senses: Vision, Hearing, Touch, as well as Multimodal applications. Each chapter is written by different multimedia researcher experts to provide complementary and multidisciplinary perspectives. Unlike other related books, which focus on guidelines for designing accessible interfaces, or are dated in their coverage of cutting-edge multimedia technologies, Multimedia for Accessible Human Computer Interfaces takes an application-oriented approach to present a tour of how the field of multimedia is advancing access to human computer interfaces for individuals with disabilities.

Summer 2021 – Passive Radiative Heat Pump Surfaces for Urban Cooling: From Laboratory to Field Testing

Summer 2021 – Passive Radiative Heat Pump Surfaces for Urban Cooling: From Laboratory to Field Testing

Project Director David Sailor      

In this partnership with the City of Tempe and 3M, the Zimin-Institute-funded team installed 3M-supplied radiative cooling thin films on the rooftops of transit stops for a bus route in Tempe and found their thermal performance to be quite promising.  The films exhibit high solar reflectance of ~94% (vs. 45% typical surface) and a high thermal emittance of ~93% (vs.  70% typical), such that surfaces on which they are installed can remain substantially below the urban ambient temperature.  Comprehensive studies over a range of summer days and times-of-day cool revealed that the film surface is 0.63 °C (1.1 °F) cooler than ambient air, while conventional surfaces are 3.6 °C (6.4 °F) hotter than ambient air.  Bus riders under the cool film shelter experience mean radiant temperatures (MRT) that are ~ 1-2 °C (~2-4 °F) cooler than under control shelters without the films.  Based on these positive outcomes, the City of Tempe is considering incorporation of cooling films in future bus shelter design, bus roofs and other shade infrastructure.  In addition, the results are being shared with other cities on the Phoenix metropolitan area to assess their interest.

Spring 2021 – Treated Waste Plastics: Enhancing the Performance of Concrete

Spring 2021 – Treated Waste Plastics: Enhancing the Performance of Concrete

Project Director Christian Hoover   

This Zimin Institute project focused on repurposing waste plastic generated within a city and subjecting to a treatment process to enable its use in cement being used to build the city (thereby enabling a circular re-use while substantially reducing carbon footprint).  This process, for which the team has submitted a patent application, has demonstrated that a beam made by replacing a small percent of the cement with treated plastics can cause a dramatic increase in the ability of the cement to absorb energy, making it more ductile and durable while preserving most of its strength, when compared to a reference made of pure cement. At the limit, by using their unique plastic chemical pre-treatment process, the team realized an unprecedented increase of a factor of 7 in energy absorption for a 16 wt% plastic incorporation level.  The new formulation in addition reduces the concrete’s CO2 footprint. These dramatic findings are serving as the basis for discussions with potential investors and for major proposal submissions to federal agencies.

Intellectual Property

  • U.S. Patent Application #16/690820:  Photoresponsive Polymer-coated Optical Fibers for Water Treatment, Inventors: Paul K. Westerhoff, Shahnawaz Sinha, Juan Noveron
  • U.S. Patent Application #63/082745 September 24, 2021: Oil-Treated Plastic for Concrete, Inventors: Elham Fini, Marvin Burton and Christian Hoover

Publications

  • “I enjoyed the chance to meet you and I will always remember you: Healthy Older Adults’ Conversations with Misty the Robot”, Jordan Miller and Troy McDaniel, Human-Robot Interaction Conference Late-Breaking Work. 2022. In press.
  • “Social Robots: The friend of future or mechanical mistake?”, Jordan Miller, IEEE Transactions on Society Artificial Intelligence for Equity. 2022. In press.
  • “Socially Assistive Robots for Storytelling and Other Activities to Support Aging in Place”, Jordan Miller and Troy McDaniel, contributed chapter in Multimedia for Accessible Human Computer Interfaces. Springer, Cham, 2021, pp. 145-172. 
  • “Next Steps for Social Robotics in an Aging World”, Jordan Miller, Michael Bernstein, and Troy McDaniel, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 40.3 (2021): 21-23.
  • “Social Robotics to Address Isolation and Depression Among the Aging During and After COVID-19”, Jordan Miller and Troy McDaniel, In: Stephanidis C., Antona M., Ntoa S. (eds.) HCI International 2021 – Posters. HCII 2021. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 1420. Springer, Cham, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-78642-7_22
  • “Aging in Smart Environments for Independence”, Jordan Miller, Troy McDaniel, and Michael J. Bernstein, 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS). IEEE, 2020. doi: 10.1109/ISTAS50296.2020.9462211