A team of researchers from HP Labs and Michigan State University recently took home first prize in the prestigious “Discovery Challenge” of the 26th European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery, held in Riva del Garda, Italy.
The challenge asked entrants to make sense of data gleaned from four different types of sensors placed within a home environment and attached either to volunteers living in the home or placed around the building. The data was labeled by observers as representing 20 specific activities (walking, sitting, descending stairs, etc.). Some of the raw data was shared with the competitors matched to corresponding activity labels, while the rest was shared unlabeled. Each team was tasked with devising machine learning models and algorithms that could ‘learn’ from the labeled data to recognize the same activities in the unlabeled data in three activity groups: “ambulation”, “postures” and “transitions.”
Fu Jiang recently completed his M.Sc. in Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and this fall begins studying for a Ph.D. in Color Science, also at RIT. Jiang grew up in Huaian, China and received his B.Sc. in Physics from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology. This summer, he has been working with mentors in HP’s Print and 3D Lab, hoping to move the bar on our understanding of color perception at small scales. While in Palo Alto, Jiang is enjoying hiking and cycling, and appreciating the Bay Area’s good weather.
HP: Can you describe the research project you’re working on?
My project focuses on our perception of color differences in what we call “small features.” These are areas of color that represent less than 2 degrees of your field of view, which is roughly the size of your thumbnail when you hold your arm straight out in front of you. We know quite a lot about our ability to perceive color differences at a larger scale, but very little research has been done on our perception of color in areas of less than 2 degrees.
Cody Carlton had never taken a course in computer science before arriving at college. But he decided to try programming in his freshman year at Stanford University and ended up taking three CS classes. Now a rising sophomore, he’s thinking about majoring in either computer science or management science and engineering. Home for Carlton is Fort Collins, Colorado, where he grew up loving the outdoors and where he’s returned this summer to intern at HP Labs’ Fort Collins outpost. “Both the Rocky Mountains and HP are ten minutes from my house,” he says, “so it’s worked out pretty well.”
HP: So what are you working on at HP Labs this summer?
I’m working on a couple of projects in the Print and 3D Lab. My primary project is on progressive QR codes. These have a 2D black and white bar code, plus information encoded in color – and then those colors also change over time. You can encode something like a serial number into the bar code to track an object as it moves around. Then you can put color into the white spaces in the code to relay other information, like whether or not the item has been tested, and then change the color as it moves through the manufacturing or delivery process. I’m writing code that will read black and white bar codes and then map where the colors are as they change over time.
Michigan State University Ph.D. student Xi Liu is interning this summer in HP’s Print and 3D Lab, where she’s excited to be taking on new challenges in data mining, her main area of research interest. “Some companies just tell their interns what to work on,” she notes. “But at HP Labs, you can find something that both you and your advisors care about, so it's a great opportunity to get interesting work done.” Xi grew up in the heart of the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an and attended the Xi’an Jiaotong University, where she received her BS in electrical engineering. She’s now a rising fifth year Ph.D. candidate in computer science and engineering at Michigan State. Outside of work, she likes to hike and play violin.
HP: What are you working on at HP Labs this summer?
I’m looking at data from sensors like accelerometers and RGB/D cameras (which detect depth as well as record RGB images) that track human activity. We’re trying to see if we can automatically recognize what people are doing from that data, detecting whether they are sitting or standing, for example, or moving around. I’m creating a framework that allows us to extract the features of different activities from the raw data. And then I’m writing algorithms that let us take the features and identify them as specific activities.
Announced at the 2016 DRUPA international print media fair, the HP Indigo 7900 Digital Press features a new, HP Labs-engineered charge roller that many experts in the field had believed to be impossible to create.
The charge roller initiates the printing process by laying down a uniform electrical charge onto a photosensitive drum, which is then selectively discharged to form the latent image. Unlike all other commercial charge rollers, which are made from a conductive rubber exterior, HP Labs’ new charge roller is made from metal, a counterintuitive choice given that the rollers need to be highly electrically stable while in operation.
HP’s new Jet Fusion 3D Printing System, announced last month at the 2016 RAPID 3D printing and additive manufacturing conference in Orlando and set to reinvent how companies prototype and produce functional parts, started out as an under-the-radar collaboration between a small group of researchers drawn from HP Labs and HP’s printing business group.
Company leaders had observed the 3D print industry from its inception, but had yet to arrive at an approach that they could fully support, explains Lihua Zhao, senior research manager and lead for HP Labs 3D Print research. But four years ago, four engineers in HP’s Barcelona print business research lab began talking with several counterparts in HP Labs.
A paper presented by Lei Liu of HP Labs and Shuting Wang of Pennsylvania State University shared the Best Paper award at LILE2016, a workshop for data-based educational research convened last month in Montreal, Canada in conjunction with WWW2016, the 25th international World Wide Web conference. Titled “Prerequisite Concept Maps Extraction for Automatic Assessment,” the paper proposes a new way to discover the gaps that exist in a student’s understanding of any given subject.
An HP Labs research project is applying data science to a central concern of any services business: maximizing the company’s return on the time and money it invests in selling and then provisioning those services to its customers.
It’s a particular challenge for companies like HP that offer services supplying customers with physical materials, such as printers and ink, on a large scale, and where the contractual engagement cycle for those services can easily extend over a long period of time.
Now, in a collaboration with HP’s Managed Print Services (MPS) business unit, HP Labs researchers are exploring how to shorten that cycle while also gaining key insights into how machine learning can improve the contractual service experience for both HP and its customers.
This is another blog in our series on how the HP Way and the combined weight of HP’s research, business practices, and heart – what I call “the HP Weigh” - can contribute to a better future. Feel free to weigh in!
Do you still have a weigh with words? Or has the premise behind the Shallows, which argued that the Internet is negatively influencing “how we think, read and remember,” and is one of the landmark books of this decade, proven true in your increasingly referential brain? In this blog, we briefly discuss the history and the power of text to motivate, liberate, and educate, and consider the magic of text in a world increasingly crushed by the now-mundane pervasiveness of video. We then consider the many different ways in which we can add emphasis, or emphasis, or even emphasis, to text. Hopefully, when you finish looking over this, you’ll have a renewed love of the art of reading.
Is there, in fact, more creativity in text than in video? Maybe so. And in this age of video and other multimedia, what role does millennia-old, humble text play? More than you might think. Keep in mind that text is not just the first word, it is also the last word. And word is, text is not just content, it is form and shape as well.
Despite the easy availability of digital multimedia, students still like to read instructional materials printed on paper, notes Yang Lei, a research scientist in HP’s Print and 3D Lab where the future of education has been a major avenue of inquiry for the past few years.
“When we survey people, many say they prefer to read print books,” Yang explains. “But printed materials don't offer the array of features and the rich learning experience that’s possible with digital materials. So as we’ve been developing a vision of the teaching media of the future, we’ve wanted to imagine a hybrid solution that offered the best of both worlds.”
The lab’s newest educational technology, dubbed the HP Personalized Hybrid Learning App for Sprout, achieves that goal via customized printed instructional materials that seamlessly interact with online resources.
This is the second in a series of blogs on how the HP Way and the combined weight of HP’s research, business practices, and heart – what I call “the HP Weigh” - can contribute to a better future. Feel free to weigh in!
Driving diversity is a hot topic in board rooms, leadership conferences, and STEM classrooms. Like many companies, HP has a team that is specifically focused on educating, measuring, and improving diversity across our company. This interest in diversity has generated research studies on the financial benefits and business case studies to prove or disprove the moral case. These studies provide persuasive evidence on improved financial performance when a more balanced number of women are included on boards and management. Motivated by this research companies such as Volvo, L’oreal and KPMG are using diversity to expand creativity, innovation, and robustness of design by actively filling traditional men only roles, such as car design, scientific research, and senior leadership with women.
Last November, I was invited to speak at the Bay Area Multimedia Forum. The weekend before the event, I had complete pharyngitis, to the extent that I couldn’t speak Saturday or Sunday at all. While this made my family and friends enjoy a nicer weekend than usual, it meant I was worried I would have to cancel the talk. Luckily, just enough of my voice came back to give a gravelly, but hopefully still relevant talk on the following outline:
Dr. Daniel Lau of the University of Kentucky was recently in the Bay Area and stopped by HP Labs in Palo Alto to give a hosted technical presentation. The conversations ranged from coded apertures to precision dairy.
This is the first in a series of blogs on how the HP Way and the combined weight of HP’s research, business practices, and heart – what I call “the HP Weigh” - can contribute to a better future. Feel free to weigh in!
3D printing (3DP) flew off the peak of the hype rollercoaster last year and remains mid-pupil in the public eye. That’s no surprise, since it promises to underpin a new hybridization of mass production and mass customization that could help revive manufacturing in the Rust Belts and small communities of the world.
Understandably, too, HP’s pending entrance in the field has drawn a lot of media attention. Some of that is due to uncertainty about HP’s plans. In this blog, though, I hope to show how that should also be in anticipation of the power of what I call “the HP Weigh."
At the heart of HP’s successful HP Indigo commercial printing business is a sophisticated ink – known as ElectroInk – that contains electrically chargeable particles that help ensure that Indigo’s presses achieve very high levels of print quality, stability, and durability at high marking engine speeds
Maintaining those levels, however, is a challenge, says Omer Gila, director of commercial printing research in HP’s Print and 3D Lab. “To make every print the same, you need to control all the parameters you subject your inks to, including the ElectroInk electrical properties and charges.” And while calibration sensors in a press are making sure that press and inks are running at their target specifications, he notes, “there is a need for a high precision external ElectroInk reference unit to monitor and calibrate press internal sensors, installing new inks, and qualifying new ElectroInk formulations.”
When HP Labs research scientist Lei Liu was a child in XianYang, China, he read a newspaper article detailing how HP originated in a garage in Palo Alto. “That inspired me,” he recalls. “Silicon Valley was clearly somewhere where you could have a dream, incubate it, and see it come true.” Today, Lei is living that dream as a member of HP’s Print and 3D Lab. After studying for his B.S. and M.S. in computer science at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, he moved to Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering, focusing on data mining and machine learning. During his graduate studies, he interned at HP Labs in Palo Alto and then joined the Labs team full time in 2014. Since then, Lei’s been moving fast. He’s already filed for 19 patents, for one thing, with another six in the works.
One of our objectives in HP’s Print and 3D Lab is to develop a personalized learning technology platform that can tailor print and digital content to the specific learning style of any individual, driving improved learning outcomes for all.
Take any number of people and ask them to read the same book. Different individuals will read that same content with different reading skills, attention spans, background knowledge, interests, and so on. Some will comprehend the content more easily with multimedia than just plain text. Some will be able to sustain their reading attention, while others will need to take a break every few minutes.
In the online world, there are two well-known “species” of user: “searchers” and “shoppers.” Each leaves a voluminous trail of information behind them. Web searchers mainly deposit search keywords and result clicks, while shoppers’ trails are made up of views, purchases, and rentals of products. Analytics algorithms have long mined for insights, user preferences, and leveraging crowd wisdom, with the ultimate aim of optimizing advertising, sales, products, services, and web sites.
The Web landscape has changed a lot the last few years, and new types of users have emerged. One notable new class is “online readers,” those who read content online in order to be informed, entertained, trained, educated, and so forth. The proliferation of textual content in a plurality of forms (including e-news, e-books, and online courses), along with the popularity of portable devices, has shaken the foundations of traditional printed forms. But it has also opened the door to new and exciting opportunities. Why? Because online readers leave their own digital trails in the form of page scrolls, turns, and other content interactions. Now organizations in digital printing, publishing, book retail, education, and other domains, as well as authors, educators, and other individuals, can leverage these trails to answer questions that were difficult or impossible to answer before. For starters, how long do people read in one session? How long do they stay on a page? How does that time vary by topic? When or where do they stop reading? These questions are only the beginning of a new kind of analytics, called reading analytics, that could significantly influence our future interactions with, and offerings to, online readers.
Mass customization, in Tseng and Jiao’s definition, is "producing [customized, personalized] goods and services to meet individual customer's needs with near mass production efficiency". It includes two seemingly competing objectives that make its realization challenging:
1) make individualized products (with a high value) to meet customers’ heterogeneous needs, resulting in ever smaller order sizes to the point where “every product is different” (EPID); and
2) deliver operational efficiency of a quality that successfully competes against mass production (think Henry Ford and assembly lines).
We are moving closer to widespread adoption of mass customization, however, thanks largely to technical innovations on two fronts. Firstly, we now have general-purpose machines that can produce diverse products (i.e. successive items of different shape and/or functionality) at more-or-less the same cost as creating copies of a single item in bulk (for example, via 3D printing). We also have software (middleware in particular) that can effectively and efficiently compose production workflows for individualized products and thread different machines (co-located, or geographically dispersed; of different capabilities, capacities, and availabilities) for workflow execution.
I am a research manager at HP Labs and for the past several months I and members of my team have been working on software and algorithms aspects of HP’s new Multi Jet Fusion™ technology.
HP Multi Jet FusionTM technology will revolutionize the 3D printing space. How? HP Multi Jet FusionTM will print parts 10 times faster(1) than current technologies, create parts that provide overall functionality through a combination of precision and strength at breakthrough economics(2). This is all done by using HP’s swath-wide array printing technology to selectively apply fusing and detailing agents to a powder material and then exposing the material to energy which leads to a thermo-chemical reaction to selectively fuse the material. High geometric complexity does not add cost and set up times and costs are minimal.
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