Podcast Interview with ACM Prize in Computing Winner, Shwetak Patel

Shwetak Patel Speaks at HLF 2019
Shwetak Patel Speaks at HLF 2019
Shwetak Patel Speaks at HLF 2019

Shwetak Patel, the 2018 ACM Prize in Computing winner and Professor in Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, was a participating laureate at this year’s Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). During his presentation at HLF, Dr. Patel discussed some of the innovate health applications he and his team have developed including an app that can monitor jaundice in babies called Bilicam. Typically, it can be hard to discern if a baby has severe jaundice since many babies skin has a yellowish hue naturally. Bilicam filters certain kinds of light out of the spectrum which allows that user to track the kinds of chemicals found in the babies skin. From there you can decide whether there are too many of the negative chemicals present and whether you need to take medical action. 

Another application developed by Dr. Patel is Osteoapp. A student of Dr. Patel’s discovered an old medical device that was used to measure bone density. The device worked like a tuning fork: at certain frequencies, the device would vibrate indicating healthy bones, if it did not, that meant that your bones were compromised. Building off this idea, OsteoApp emits a sound from a smartphone that causes a vibration in the bones. The app can then tell if the resulting vibration frequency indicates a healthy or unhealthy bone structure. 

At HFL, I had an opportunity to sit down with Shwetak and interview him for the Computing Community Consortium’s (CCC) official podcast, “Catalyzing Computing,” which features interviews with researchers and policymakers about their background and experiences in the computing community. The podcast also offers recaps of visioning workshops and other events hosted by the CCC. If you want to learn about some of the computing community’s most influential members or keep tabs on the latest areas of interest then this is the podcast for you.

In this episode, we discuss how he got started in computer science, entrepreneurship, building a team, and the future of smart health systems. 

You can stream the episode in the embedded player below or find it on iTunes | Spotify Soundcloud | Stitcher | Google Play | Youtube | Blubrry | iHeartRadio. (note, it may take a few hours for the podcast to become available on your preferred platform). 


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Khari Douglas is the Senior Program Associate for Engagement for the Computing Community Consortium (CCC), a standing committee within the Computing Research Association (CRA). In this role, Khari interacts with members of the computing research community and policy makers to organize visioning workshops and coordinate outreach activities. He is also the host and producer of the Catalyzing Computing podcast.

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