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Maurya from the PDPM-Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design
and Manufacturing, Jabalpur, India, was
the second speaker and described a very
interesting piece of work on merging
the IoT with agriculture. Her work,
“Threshold-Sensitive Region-Based
Hybrid Routing Protocol for Precision
Agriculture,” has immense potential in
transforming the current agricultural
methods into more technology-oriented
ones and is set to help the farmers in
India. Tein Yaw Chung from Yuan Ze
University, Taiwan, explained “Analysis
of Recommendation Algorithms for
IoT,” which provides numerous benefits
to the end users. The final presentation
was delivered by Yasmina Al Khalil
from Abu Dhabi University, “Mobile
Panoramic Video Maps over MEC Networks.” She showed the true power of
consumer devices and MEC platforms
and the benefits end users can receive
from MEC.
This has been another success of the
CESoc FD-IoT team. I would like to
thank Sharon Peng (president of the IEEE
Consumer Electronics Society), Steve
Dukes (VP of Conferences), Coughlin,
and Perumal for their constant support. If
you are interested in joining our activities, feel free to send me an e-mail at
[email protected]
First IEEE Brain Initiative Workshop
he first IEEE Brain Initiative
Workshop was held at the Faculty
House at Columbia University on
14 December 2015. The workshop helped kick off a discussion on the
definition, scope, and potential structure
of the IEEE Brain Initiative effort, and
members from academia, industry, and
government communities were present.
Steve Diamond, vice chair of the IEEE
Future Directions Committee, gave opening remarks and welcomed the attendees,
emphasizing the importance of the
IEEE’s role in nurturing the development of technologies and brain research.
Paul Sajda, professor of biomedical
engineering and radiology at Columbia
University and chair of the IEEE Brain
Initiative, and Jose Carmena, professor
of electrical engineering and neuroscience at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley and vice chair of the IEEE
Brain Initiative, facilitated the workshop
discussion. A key goal that was echoed
throughout the day was to focus on
delivering concrete results through the
IEEE Brain Initiative effort. The IEEE
with an unrivaled network of professionals and experts that span across multiple
engineering disciplines and technologies
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MCE.2016.2556821
Date of publication: 10 August 2016
is in a unique position to make an impact
on brain technologies and research.
The December workshop was a
blend of keynote presentations from
Rafael Yuste, professor of biological
sciences and neuroscience and director
of the NeuroTechnology Center at
Columbia University, and Jan Rabaey,
professor of electrical engineering and
computer science and a founding
member of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at the University
of California, Berkeley, which stimulated technical exchanges and informative presentations from 11 IEEE
Societies/Councils discussing their
efforts in the area of the brain.
In Rafael Yuste’s
keynote talk, he
stressed that we are
in a critical period of
transition where
technology and new
tools will have a
major impact in
accelerating discovRafael Yuste
ery and giving in­­
sight into how the brain works. Yuste was
one of the authors of the original proposal
for the Brain Activity Map project, which
later inspired the White House’s BRAIN
Initiative. The average human has
100 × 109 neurons in the brain, and
Yuste noted the significant challenge in
studying the emergent properties of neural
circuits by recording every neuron within
a circuit. Current imaging techniques,
such as calcium imaging of neuron circuits and two-photon imaging, are
enabling researchers to record the activity
of small groups of neurons. The shortterm goal is to record the activity of
smaller circuits on the scale of 50,000
neurons in five years and then 106 neurons in ten years. For the long-term goal
(in 15 years), the expectation is to be able
to record and study the entire brain of a
small animal.
Yuste also noted the need for a
national network of neurotechnology
centers to enhance and accelerate
brain research. No single facility has
it all. Neurotechnology centers will
harness technologies from existing
facilities while letting them mature
and be shared with others in the community to drive innovation. Yuste also
called for the creation of ethics panels
composed of bioethicists, legal
experts, philosophers, informed citizens, and the FDA to address human
rights, personhood, and dignity. He
ended his talk by quoting the Nobel
Laureate, Sydney Brenner: “Progress
in science depends on new techniques,
july 2016
IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine
new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order.”
The second keynote speaker, Jan
Rabaey, explored
the opportunities
and challenges in
realizing the human
intranet. Rabaey
represents a new
wave of engineers
Jan Rabaey
from core disciplines that are helping to accelerate neuroscience research. Advances in the fields of
integrated ­circuits, signal processing,
communi­cations, networking, material science, machine learning, controls, and other
core disciplines all contribute to solving the
many challenges in understanding the
brain. Rabaey described how we are living
in a smart, dynamic world with sensory
and data-processing capabili­ties everywhere around us. The human intranet is
an open scalable platform of sensors,
processor, actuators, storage, and network
links around, on, or inside the human
body acting in concert with the functions
provided by the body itself. The evolution of brain–machine interfaces (BCIs)
and wearable technologies (e.g., flexible
electronics and miniaturization) are enabling the realization of the human intranet. However, many challenges remain
in areas, such as energy, connectivity, safety, security, and adaptivity. The human intranet will certainly challenge society and
humanity in many ways, and the conversation must start now.
The December workshop also gave
opportunities for members of IEEE
Societies and Councils to give presenta-
Iyad Obeid (left), Temple University, with Michael H. Smith, SMC, and Narisa Chu, CE Society
A gathering at the Faculty House in Columbia University.
46 IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine
july 2016
tions about their group’s activities and
involvement in brain research. To date,
15 IEEE Societies and Councils have
agreed to join and contribute to the
IEEE Brain Initiative in addition to support from the IEEE Standards Association and the Digital Senses Initiative.
The following presentations from
IEEE organizations were given at
the workshop:
▼▼ IEEE Circuits and Systems Society
and Solid-State Circuits Society
(Europe), Timothy Constandinou,
Imperial College London
▼▼ IEEE Circuits and Systems Society
and Solid-State Circuits Society
(North America), Roman Genov,
University of Toronto
▼▼ I EEE Computational Intelligence
Society, Yoonsuck Choe, Texas
A&M University
▼▼ IEEE Consumer Electronics Society,
Narisa Chu, CWLab International
▼▼ IEEE Engineering in Medicine and
Biology Society, Metin Akay, University of Houston
▼▼ IEEE Magnetic Society, Jian-Ping
Wang, University of Minnesota
▼▼ I EEE Robotics and Automation
Society, Matei Ciocarlie, Columbia
▼▼ I EEE Sensors Council, Michael
McShane, Texas A&M University
▼▼ IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics
(SMC) Society, Michael H. Smith,
University of California, Berkeley
▼▼ I E E E S t a n d a r d s A s s o c i at i o n ,
Cherry Tom
▼▼ D igital Senses Initiative, Yu Yuan,
CATE Global.
These presentations confirmed that
much is happening within the IEEE and
the interdisciplinary nature of brain technologies and research. The IEEE already
has brain assets in existing journals or
special issues of journals, conferences,
technical committees, and standards. A
diverse range of technical disciplines is
being covered within the IEEE, including
connectomics, neurosensing, imaging
techniques, signal analysis, BCIs, deep
machine learning, and neuromorphic
computing, just to name a few. Thus, the
main goal of the IEEE Brain Initiative
(continued on page 121)
a­lgorithm for finding the right
­representation or architecture because
we aren’t solving a single problem.
This is why it’s useful to think about
an available facility as a resource or
opportunity without being confined to
a provider’s view of how it’s supposed
to be used. A strand of copper may be
used as a networking medium, or it
can carry power or we can use it to
hang a poster. Or it can be all of these
at once depending on factors entirely
outside the wire itself. With hardware,
we build the one function into the
device, but with software, we can constantly reinvent what something is and
what it does. Even better, we can share
the same physical resource for entirely
different purposes as when we share a
single Internet. This also applies to
understanding how systems work. I
don’t like the term complex adaptive
systems. That’s backwards because the
function, and thus the complexity,
depend on the point of view. Instead,
we need to find the many simple systems or per­spectives. With software,
we’re not s­ ubstituting bits for electrons, but instead we have a completely
different conceptual framework.
Future Directions
Traditional programming gives us
some of the tools we need to start to
explore this new landscape of abstractions. But we’re still in the early stage
of substituting software for mechanical systems. The next stage will seem
like magic as we effect solutions
merely by taking a fresh perspective.
Okay, not merely, but it seems magical
in the same way that when connecting
to a website you don’t think about all
that has to go right for you to simply
type in a URL and connect. The secret
is that a lot has to go right, but it’s
okay for a lot to go wrong as long as
you’re not particular about exactly
what goes right. It may be annoying if
Skype isn’t working for a while, but in
return for accepting some risk, we get
the ability to do video much of the
time. And, unlike hardware systems,
software can evolve in place. But it
will take time for people to accept
some risk in return for the ability to
create, and share, their own solutions.
Welcome to our new reality. We solve
problems by finding ways to tell
stories that our computing devices
can understand using a vocabulary
appropriate to the task.
[1] Fortran, Wikipedia. [Online]. Available:
h t t p s: / / en . w i k i p ed i a. o rg / w i k i / Fo r t r an#
[2] B. Frankston, “#APIFirst: How things
speak to each other,” IEEE Consumer Electron.
Mag., vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 86–89, 2015.
[3] Index of jmc/history/timesharing. (1996,
Sept. 15). [Online]. Available: http://www-formal.
sharing.html and
[4] B. Frankston, “Refactoring consumer electronics,” IEEE Consumer Electron. Mag., vol.
2, no. 1, pp. 26–31, 2013.
[5] B. Frankston, “Beyond limits,” in Beyond
Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing, P. J. Denning and R. M. Metcalfe, Eds.
New York: Springer Science & Business
Media, 1997, pp. 43–58.
In the “Bits Versus Electrons” column in the April 2016 issue of
IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, the link to view the blinking
lights application was omitted. The
application can be viewed at http://
(continued from page 46)
will be to leverage the collective expertise of the IEEE and synergize activities
across industry, government, and academia to advance brain research and
neurotechnology development.
The workshop ended with a lively
brainstorming session, where the
attendees identified topic areas that
should be addressed, communities and
constituencies that should be engaged,
and ways to collaborate within and outside of the IEEE. There is a strong
desire to engage the cognitive neuroscience community as well as the clinical
community. Ethics and privacy are
areas that should not be overlooked,
and the involvement of the IEEE Society of Social Implications of Technology is timely. Big data challenges for
neuroscience and BCIs in the magnitude, measurement, curation, and storage of data need to be addressed. There
was also great interest in planning
a BCI hackathon to get younger
researchers involved in understanding
the complexity of obtaining a reliable
recording of the brain’s activity, perhaps through an electroencephalogram,
and building an interface to perform a
particular task.
The IEEE Brain Initiative is looking
forward to engaging with stakeholders
in the brain community and forming a
team to further its mission to advance
efforts in brain research and neuro­
technology development. ­Periodical teleconferences are being planned, and if
you are interested in joining the IEEE
Brain Initiative, please send an e-mail to
[email protected] The presentation slides
from the December workshop can be
found at
JULY 2016
IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine
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