How will the cars of the future help you avoid a crash rather than just protect you when one occurs? How could airplanes fly without radar and air traffic controllers? What type of technology will help the elderly stay in their homes longer? Those are the types of questions faculty will be answering in the Ohio Center of Excellence in Human-Centered Innovation.
Focused on developing systems and technology for human use, the center’s research takes into consideration human needs, capabilities, and limitations. The result is the development of systems, technologies, processes, and organizational changes that enhance work, play, travel, education, and health.
“We have people who specialize in biomedical imaging and health care, creating technology for the disabled, and improving the structure of organizations. It’s such a broad range,” said Gallimore, professor of biomedical, industrial, and human factors engineering, who will serve as the center’s director.
Learn how doctoral student Jennifer Cloud-Buckner determines the design for software used by clinicians to manage patient data. Read Jennifer Cloud-Buckner’s Profile →
The Ohio Center of Excellence in Human-Centered Innovation includes 56 faculty from six colleges, providing unique synergistic opportunities for collaboration. Faculty in the center have an excellent record of external funding totaling more than $33 million in the past five years from industry, state, and federal sources.
“Faculty members at Wright State have an established record of human-centered research and development through years of collaboration with industrial partners, federal agencies, medical communities, and the Air Force Research Laboratory,” said David R. Hopkins, president of Wright State. “The challenges we face every day are multidisciplinary, therefore the solutions must be as well.”
With the historic activation of the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) in 2008, following the Base Realignment and Closure process, Wright State can play a pivotal role in human-centered research and development for the Department of Defense (DoD).
In addition to collaborating with WPAFB and the DoD, Wright State’s center will also support the United States Air Transportation System, NextGen, a Congressional mandate that must be operational by 2025. “Instead of having air traffic controllers talk to you and tell you which way to go, the airplanes themselves can decide because they’ll have GPS and know where they are and be able to tell where other airplanes are. Everything will be done through data links rather than through radar and voice commands,” explained Gallimore.
Cyber security for NextGen is one project Gallimore is considering for the center. “If everything is data linked and it’s all computer run, there’s a possibility that somebody could take over the aircraft or take over the system. We’re trying to get involved in that, with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as our partner, where we would provide the capability to do simulations and cyber security for NextGen here at Wright State.”
The center is also focused on the development of health care technology. Creating a simulation of a full-body virtual patient that will recognize the human voice and respond to questions is one example. “We’re trying to create these virtual patients so they’ll have personalities and emotions. One of the main things we’re concentrating on is communication,” said Gallimore. “If a patient has cancer, the doctor needs to communicate in a certain way and be empathetic. Signal processing of voice and pitch will help determine how you’re communicating with that patient.”
As Gallimore explains, the virtual patient has applications beyond health care. “If we can model people that seem very realistic, the government could use this to help people learn how to interact with people from different cultures. When someone from our Armed Forces goes to a foreign country, they could interact with these virtual people and learn about their customs and what would be considered rude or not rude.”
Receiving statewide recognition
The Ohio Center of Excellence in Human-Centered Innovation is the first Wright State center to be designated as a University System of Ohio Center of Excellence.
Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, praised the work in human-centered innovation being done by Wright State and cited its importance in bringing jobs to Ohio and making the state globally competitive.
“This recognition sends a clear message that the state is committed to supporting Wright State’s global leadership in this field,” said Fingerhut. “The selection and announcement of Ohio’s Centers of Excellence, in line with the University System of Ohio’s Strategic Plan, are key to attracting the talent and entrepreneurship that will drive the state’s economic advancement.”
“To be distinguished as an Ohio Center of Excellence further establishes the impact Wright State has on the economy of the state,” said Hopkins. “We are appreciative of the state’s continued support of our initiatives.”
The center aligns with, supports, and leverages three of four industry clusters for success as identified by the Dayton Development Coalition. These include information technology/data management, health care and human sciences, and aerospace research and development. Economic impact will occur through the commercialization of new technology, company formation, service and support, and health care cost reduction.
“As part of our commitment to this effort, we are working through the details that will allow us to target a significant set of the coalition’s entrepreneurial development resources on companies aligned with the Center of Excellence in Human-Centered Innovation to accelerate technology commercialization,” said Jim Leftwich, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition.
Representatives from several Dayton area businesses and industries have committed more than $1 million in cash and in-kind services over the next two years for research in human-centered innovation. They include the Dayton Development Coalition, Kettering Health Network, Advanced Technical Intelligence Center, Radiance Technologies, SelectTech Services Corporation, Beville Engineering, Inc., SAIC, daytaOhio, and Rhino Corp.
The Centers of Excellence, as outlined in Ohio’s 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education, will position the University System of Ohio to be a magnet for talent and a leader in innovation and entrepreneurial activity by developing distinct missions for each institution that are recognized by students, faculty, and business leaders, while eliminating unnecessary competition for resources, students, and faculty within the state.