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Five COE Projects Selected for GapFund360

Congratulations to ECE Associate Professors Kaushik Chowdhury, Raymond Fu, Matteo Rinaldi, ECE Professor Vincent Harris, and BioE Professor Jeff Ruberti whose projects were selected for Phase 1 2018 funding by Northeastern’s GapFund360 program. The GapFund360 helps Northeastern’s researchers bridge the gap between promising lab results and demonstrating a commercially viable prototype. We offer grants and programs designed to catalyze our state-of-the-art technologies, advancing innovation through prototyping, validation, and industry input.

Contactless Wireless Energy Transfer: Anywhere, Anytime Charging Surfaces

Principal Investigator and Team: Kaushik Chowdhury, Yousof Naderi, Ufuk Muncuk,
Kai Li

This project involves the design of a software-hardware
platform that transforms any surface into an Internet-connected and
contactless wireless charger for multiple devices, including laptops and
phones. Recent feedback from the prestigious “NYC Creative Destruction Lab”
program with 27 acceptances out of 300 applications, and the third place at
the competitive NSF Investor Relations workshop, both in 2018, point towards
charging without physical contact as a breakthrough technology over the Qi-based
full-contact chargers available today. We already have a laboratory
prototype composed of a magnetic resonance (MR) beamforming transmitter with
software controlled user-interface and MR receiver that charges a device
7.8″ from the transmitter.

The project, if funded, will accelerate the next version
of MR-based charging surface development complete with an industrial design
casing that delivers power safely over-distance and over-large-area to
multiple-devices with high-rate. The steps involved are: (i) integration of
an intelligent sensing and object detection component based on magnetic
field tomography, (ii) design and build a programmable array of
interconnected transmitter coils and amplifiers that avoid mutual
interference, (iii) extensive testing with different candidate surface
materials, and (iv) professional design, fabrication of the enclosure. This
prototype will be demonstrated to potential customers and investors within a
year.

Smart AI Trainer by Deep Learned Visual Intelligence

Principal Investigator and Team: Raymond Fu, Songyao Jiang, Fuming Guo: EchoPose

Video based human body parts localization is a
fundamental but challenging topic in Artificial Intelligence, due to the
complexity of human body movement, occlusions and limited computing
resources. In recent years, deep convolutional neural networks have raised a
significant achievement on human pose estimation in terms of accuracy.
However, deep models are computation hungry which always require a powerful
processor to run. Nowadays powerful personal computers are being replaced by
portable smart devices such as smartphone. Strict requirement of high
performance hardware limits the application of deep learning based software
on mobile devices without powerful processors. We aims to create a novel
patented deep learning technology that could provide high accuracy pose
tracking and estimation algorithms running on CPU based mobile devices in
real time. We invented a novel deep learning framework using an
encoder-decoder like deep model to extract deep features from input frame
and obtain the heatmap of human body joints. Through a novel optimization
technique on the deep neural networks, our framework can further reduce the
computational cost and parameters significantly by separating a pointwise
high-dimensional convolution layer into several pointwise low-dimensional
layers. Compared with any existing technologies in the market, our new
technology shows superior accuracy while can still achieve real-time
performances on mobile phones. It is a breakthrough for technology
innovations and certainly leads to many game-changer AI products.

Cation Spin-Engineered Superparamagnetic Mn(Me)-ferrite (Me=3d TMs) Nanoparticles for MRI Contrast Agents and Targeted Magnetohyperthermia Cancer Remediation

Principal Investigator and Team: Vince Harris, Parisa Andalib

We propose a new technology to address a gap in the MRI
market in the imaging of liver cancers. The MRI market has been facing a
growing concern over the toxicity of the leading Gadolinium (Gd)-based MRI
contrast agents (CAs). In 2017, the European Medical Agency banned the use
of Gd CAs and the US FDA recently issued a warning to healthcare
professionals that their use be restricted to limited cases and applied with
the lowest doses possible. The need for low toxicity CAs for cancer imaging
has placed a tremendous amount of pressure on producers to provide a safe
alternative to Gd based CAs, specifically for liver cancer imaging.

Gap funding at this stage of development is essential.
The pathway to development of a new product line for low toxicity agents
based on Mn-ferrite is clear to us and involves what we refer to as Cation
Spin Engineered nanoparticles. Several of the key steps have been developed
and reduced to practice by our research team. However, we are without the
financial resources to coalesce the components in order to realize our
innovation. Timely funding will help us bridge, secure essential results,
and prepare us to aggressively seek external support.

Global Resilience Institute Awardee: Battery-less Infrared Sensor Tags
for Reliable Occupancy Sensing (BISTROS)

Principal Investigator and Team: Matteo Rinaldi, Zhenyun Qian, Sungho
Kang

Sensor systems for human presence sensing and people
counting will drastically improve the efficiency of heating, ventilation,
and air conditioning (HVAC) in commercial buildings based on the demand.
However, a user-transparent sensor system with the required accuracy,
reliability, and cost to deliver such substantial energy savings is
currently not available. Here, we propose an occupancy sensor technology
that enables low cost and reliable indoor people counting for quick return
on investment through dramatical savings on energy cost. The sensors utilize
the energy of the infrared radiation emitted from a human body to operate
and determine the presence of people within a detection range without
consuming any electrical power. Therefore, the battery-less sensor tags can
be installed virtually anywhere in a building without the need of periodic
maintenance. This project seeks the development of a sensor prototype
leveraging the recent proof-of-concept work demonstrated by the PI and
Co-PI. A business model and a technology roadmap to the market will also be
derived and refined during the project with the mentor. The expected
technical deliverables from this project are the key missing parts for a
convincing and intuitive demo to potential customers and investors hence
extremely important for commercialization.

First in Animal Demonstration of Tendon/Ligament Repair and Replacement

Principal Investigator and Team: Jeff Ruberti, Adam
Hacking

Goal: To demonstrate that a new collagenous regenerative
patch, capable of delivering collagen to a damaged tissue and confining it
to the damaged area will enhance ligament and tendon repair in animal
models.

Market: The three most injured soft tissues are the
anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the rotator cuff (supraspinatus tendon)
and the Achilles tendon. Each year in the US there are in excess of 500,000
reparative surgical procedures performed on these tissues. The current
market for soft tissue repair is $2-3B and estimated to grow to $9-14B by
2024. Recently, a collagen-based device designed to augment the repair of
supraspinatus tendon was purchased by Smith & Nephew for $125M up front in
cash with another $85M in milestones.

State of Technolology/IP: Currently, each part of the
device has been manufactured and tested both mechanically and for its
ability to deliver collagen. There is an extensive patent portfolio
comprising at least 5 issued patents and 3 patent applications wholly owned
by Northeastern.

Approach: The collagen healing device will be
manufactured at Northeastern and tested in two animal models (rat and
rabbit) representing the top 3 indications for soft tissue repair (ACL
replacement, repair of rotator cuff and Achilles tendon injuries)

Related Faculty: Kaushik Chowdhury, Yun Raymond Fu, Vincent G. Harris, Matteo Rinaldi, Jeffrey W. Ruberti

Related Departments:Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering