One Member Invents an In-Ear Translator and Another Develops a Mobile Air Pollution Detection System

These and other innovations made headlines this month

26 December 2016

IEEE Member Sumeet Gupta received a Young Faculty Award from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The YFA program provides funding and mentoring to recipients early in their careers so they can develop their research to meet the Defense Department’s needs.

Gupta was recognized for his research proposal, “Ultra-Low Power Non-Volatile Processors Enabled by Ferroelectric Transistors”—a new electronic system that won’t require batteries for power but will instead draw energy from the environment. Ferroelectric materials have a spontaneous electric polarization that can be reversed by the application of an external electric field.

Gupta is an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park. He is a member of the IEEE Electron Devices Society as well as the IEEE Young Professionals group.

Senior Member Mona Jarrahi has been named a Moore Inventor Fellow. Established this year by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the fellowship program recognizes early-career innovators at U.S. universities who are likely to “accelerate progress in scientific research, environmental conservation, and patient care.” Jarrahi will receive a total of US $825,000 during the next three years to further her research.

She is working to develop imaging technologies that use the terahertz (THz) part of the electromagnetic spectrum. THz radiation falls in between infrared and microwave radiation. The radiation is nonionizing and can penetrate body tissue, so it can potentially replace medical X-rays. THz imaging could reveal how the structure of a biomolecule is changed during a biological process.

Jarrahi, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation, IEEE Electron Devices, IEEE Microwaves Theory and Techniques, and IEEE Photonics societies.

Member Andrew Ochoa was featured on for his work on the Pilot in-ear translation system.

The Pilot system, scheduled to launch in May, consists of a mobile app and two coin-size Bluetooth earpieces—one goes in your ear, the other in the ear of the person you are speaking to. The user talks into a smartphone’s microphone using his or her native language, then the Pilot app translates the words into the language of the conversation partner. The system can handle English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, with additional languages expected to be added late next year.

Ochoa is CEO and director of product development at Waverly Labs, in New York City. The company raised US $3 million on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, to develop Pilot.

Senior Member Aydogan Ozcan was featured in the Daily Bruin for helping to develop a low-cost mobile imaging system that detects and determines the level of air pollution.

His research group at the University of California, Los Angeles, developed C-Air, a particle detector capable of determining the size of air pollutants as small as 1 micrometer.

Most air-particle detectors require lenses and other optical tools to function, making them too expensive for many pollution-detection applications. Ozcan’s group reduced the price of its detector by using digital holography microscopy, which enables a smartphone’s image sensors to mimic the effect of lenses computationally, eliminating the need for expensive optics.

Ozcan is a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at UCLA and associate director of the university’s California NanoSystems Institute. He is also a member of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology and IEEE Photonics societies.

Senior Member Massood Tabib-Azar was featured on for developing a way to prevent power leakage from electronic devices.

People in the United States alone waste up to US $19 billion annually in electricity due to “vampire appliances”—digital devices in the home that suck power even when they’re turned off, according to the National Resources Defense Council.

Tabib-Azar and his team of engineers at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, have developed microscopic electronic switches for appliances and devices that instantly connect and disconnect electrical flow. With this new technology, smartphones and laptops could run at least twice as long on a single battery charge, and newer all-digital appliances, like televisions and video game consoles, could be more energy-efficient.

Tabib-Azar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a member of the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation, the IEEE Electron Devices Society, the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society, the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, the IEEE Nanotechnology Council, and the IEEE Sensors Council.

Learn More