OSU: Textile Meets Tech

Researchers are working to develop wearable electronics have reached a milestone: They are able to embroider circuits into fabric with 0.1 mm precision—the perfect size to integrate electronic components such as sensors and computer memory devices into clothing.

With this advance, the Ohio State University researchers have taken the next step toward the design of functional textiles—clothes that gather, store, or transmit digital information. With further development, the technology could lead to shirts that act as antennas for your smart phone or tablet, workout clothes that monitor your fitness level, sports equipment that monitors athletes’ performance, a bandage that tells your doctor how well the tissue beneath it is healing—or even a flexible fabric cap that senses activity in the brain.

That last item is one that John Volakis, director of the ElectroScience Laboratory at Ohio State, and research scientist Asimina Kiourti are investigating. The idea is to make brain implants, which are under development to treat conditions from epilepsy to addiction, more comfortable by eliminating the need for external wiring on the patient’s body.

Recently, he and Kiourti refined their patented fabrication method to create prototype wearables at a fraction of the cost and in half the time as they could only two years ago. With new patents pending, they published the new results in the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters.

Facial Recognition Portion of Human Brain Mapped by OSU Researchers

Researchers at The Ohio State University have pinpointed the area of the brain responsible for recognizing human facial expressions. It’s on the right side of the brain behind the ear, in a region called the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS).

In a paper published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers report that they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify a region of pSTS as the part of the brain activated when test subjects looked at images of people making different facial expressions.

Further, the researchers have discovered that neural patterns within the pSTS are specialized for recognizing movement in specific parts of the face. One pattern is tuned to detect a furrowed brow, another is tuned to detect the upturn of lips into a smile, and so on.

The team was able to create a machine learning algorithm that uses this brain activity to identify what facial expression a person is looking at based solely on the fMRI signal.

Using this fMRI data, the researchers developed a machine learning algorithm that has about a 60 percent success rate in decoding human facial expressions, regardless of the facial expression and regardless of the person viewing it.

The researchers will continue the work, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Alfred P Sloan Foundation.

OSU Announces New Award for Exceptional Students

The Ohio State University will select two graduating seniors as recipients of the first-ever President’s Prize, the highest recognition the university bestows on exceptional students committed to social change.

Each President’s Prize scholar will receive a $50,000 living stipend and $50,000 in startup funding, access to the mentorship of accomplished experts and the opportunity to share their innovative idea with Ohio State’s global community of alumni, friends and partners.

Applicants must submit an idea for a project that has the potential to make a meaningful impact on society, and that furthers the university’s mission of addressing some of the world’s most important and pressing challenges.

The prestigious prize honors Ohio State’s founding purpose of offering an excellent education while elevating society through research – and is the latest step in re-committing the university to its motto of Education for Citizenship.

Jody Victor

OSU Contributes Expertise to National Textile Technology Initiative

The Ohio State University will play a key role in a $75 million national research institute announced last week by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Led by MIT, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) Institute will be a national manufacturing resource center for industry and government, drawing on multiple universities’ research in revolutionary fibers and textiles.

Led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor John Volakis, Ohio State will contribute extensive research expertise in wearable textile sensors and communication devices for health monitoring, medical imaging and energy harvesting, among other purposes.

AFFOA becomes one of eight National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, a $317 million public-private effort to boost the value of American-made products on the international market. The newest NNMI institute will support American textile manufacturers in applying advanced materials and textiles to products from active wear to protective armor.

In addition to MIT and Ohio State, AFFOA is comprised of 31 universities, including Cornell, Georgia, Penn State, and Cal-Davis, and 16 industry partners including Nike, Microsoft, Goodyear, The North Face, Bose and Medtronic. In addition, 26 start-up incubators and venture capital groups have pledged their support.