By Leah Murphy ’17, Staff Writer
Project Title: Engineering an Architecture for Communication Between a Wearable Device and Cognitive Model
Student: Eric Marshall ’18, computer science & engineering
Mentor: Professor Chris Dancy, computer science
Computer science and engineering student Eric Marshall ’18 spent his summer researching and designing a communication system for gathering physiological data for use within a cognitive architecture, an intelligent system that thinks the way people think. The project utilized a Microsoft Band 2 smartwatch to collect physiological data, such as heart rate, galvanic skin response and skin temperature, which was then sent to an Android smartphone. From there, the data was sent via an HTTP POST request to a Node.js based sever. With artificial intelligence allowing for greater prediction and improved user experiences in many aspects of computing, Marshall believes that cognitive models like this offer the potential to create an improved user experience that benefits from being tailored to the user in real time.
Funded by Bucknell’s Program for Undergraduate Research, this summer’s project introduced Marshall not only to the complexity of research, but also to the sheer breadth of subjects available for undergraduate exploration. His favorite part of the process was successfully getting the physiological data to send between devices since, as he puts it, “something as simple as being able to hit a button on the phone and see the server output a confirmation message” can make research extremely satisfying. While it was rewarding to successfully work on developing an intelligent-mobile architecture, Marshall notes that research is rarely without challenges. A potential pitfall for his research was the possibility of the sensor in the Microsoft Band 2 changing, which would require him to rework his entire code base. In order to better prepare for this possibility, Marshall worked to ensure that the interface for his research could properly adapt to a new sensor with minimal changes to code.
Though his work on the project is complete, the design and implementation of a cognitive architecture continues in the work of Marshall’s summer research mentor, Professor Christopher Dancy. Reflecting on his summer experience, Marshall notes that Professor Dancy was extremely supportive in helping him create the architecture and offered excellent guidance on questions of what data should be collected from the smartwatch. Dancy’s willingness to answer questions not only about Marshall’s research project, but also broad topics in computer science, has proved personally helpful to Marshall as he continues to explore his interests in the field.