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Three ECE faculty members win HP Labs Innovation Research Awards


Kim Gudeman, Coordinated Science Lab, and Jenny Applequist, Information Trust Institute

Three ECE faculty members are among an elite group of 59 professors to receive a 2009 HP Labs Innovation Research Award. The program creates opportunities for colleges, universities and research institutes to conduct breakthrough collaborative research with HP.

ECE Professors Narendra Ahuja, Thomas S Huang, and William H Sanders, were selected from a pool of 300 applicants from more than 140 universities around the world. All three are researchers in the
Coordinated Science Lab.

“Our goal with this program is to collaborate with the brightest minds from around the world to tackle the industry’s most complex problems and push the frontiers of fundamental science,” said Prith Banerjee, senior vice president, Research, HP and director, HP Labs. “The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has demonstrated outstanding achievement and a vision that will help inspire technological innovation and address the most complex challenges and opportunities facing the industry in the next decade.”

Narendra Ahuja
Narendra Ahuja

Ahuja, a Donald Biggar Willet Professor, will collaborate with HP Labs on “3D Reconstruction of Dynamic Real-World Objects and 3D Motion Aided Gesture Recognition.” The work will focus on extracting three-dimensional descriptions of the real world from a pair of cameras, with specific applications to interpreting hand and body gestures.

Ahuja won an Innovation Research Award last year, when he developed the capabilities to reconstruct object surfaces in 3D while eliminating mirror-like highlights and undesirable shadows and recognizing the color of the prevailing lighting. This year’s award will build on the previous study by using additional information in the video sequencing of stereo images to reconstruct scenes with moving objects and complex lighting, such as people walking across an office floor.

These advances will “take a user’s teleconference experience one step closer to normal face-to-face meetings,” Ahuja says.

Thomas S Huang
Thomas S Huang

Huang will work with HP to overcome a major challenge in computer vision: overcoming the “semantic gap” that exists when inferring high-level semantic concepts from low-level features. Huang, a William L. Everitt Professor of Electrical Engineering, will explore the rich multimedia data available on the Web to meet this challenge through his project, “Mining Image Semantics Using an Ontological Framework.”

Sanders, also a Donald Biggar Willet Professor, will work with his collaborator Aad van Moorsel of the School of Computing Science at Britain’s Newcastle University on a research initiative entitled “Prediction and Provenance for Multi-Objective Information Security Management.” The project will focus on prediction of information technology systems’ compliance to ISO27k security guidelines while maintaining overarching business and security goals.

William H Sanders
William H Sanders

ISO27k is a family of information security management standards overseen by the International Organization for Standardization. The new research project aims to address gaps in existing evaluation technologies by introducing new probabilistic and stochastic model-based prediction techniques, making use of the Illinois-developed Möbius modeling tool, which will allow IT managers to find out how well their systems conform to the standards and to determine the impact of that conformance on multiple objectives. In addition to his role as Acting Director of CSL, Sanders is Director of the Information Trust Institute and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

More details about the HP Labs Innovation Research Program and worldwide award recipients are available at