Improving Living Conditions in Developing Countries

in Significant Bits
July 17th, 2014

A cross-disciplinary team, including researchers from the BU School of Public Health, Department of Computer Science, and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering were awarded the BU Social Entrepreneurship Award at the BU Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll (TDRR) event on July 15, 2014 for their project titled, “Project SEARCH: Scanning Ears for Child Health.”

The research studies ear biometrics’ potential for solving patient identification challenges in global field settings. It involves undergraduate and graduate researchers and multiple course projects on science and technology that have potential to have significant impact on living conditions in lesser developed countries.

The team consists of:

In addition, the comparative study and development portion of this project has been done as a course project last spring for the courses:

  •  CAS CS 585 Image and Video Computing taught by Diane Theriault
  •  CAS CS 542 Machine learning taught by Peter Chin (CS Research Professor and Hariri Institute Visiting Fellow)

Christopher Gill, Elizabeth Ragan, and Courtney Johnson created the system and conducted initial feasibility studies using mouse clicks on images of ears.  Fatih Cakir, a Computer Science doctoral student, heard about the project through Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Muhammad Zaman. Cakir subsequently followed up with a discussion of the past literature he had surveyed on ear biometrics. When Cakir served as the Teaching Fellow for CS 542 this past spring, he encouraged a team of students in CS 542 to develop the SEARCH ear scanning prototype for the iPhone in their course project. The result is promising, and the team plans to port it to the Android platform and conduct field testing soon.

For more information, visit the website or watch the video.