Faculty

Harnessing Smartphones to Prevent Psychosis

There is no known cure for schizophrenia, but Dartmouth’s Dror Ben-Zeev and his team are working on ways to help those who suffer from it. The disease is chronic, often fluctuating between psychotic episodes and periods of remission.

“We are developing a mobile system that can detect early warning signs of impending episodes, and trigger time-sensitive interventions that may help prevent relapses into psychosis,” says Ben-Zeev, a clinical psychologist, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine and a researcher at the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that many have come to know about through actor Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Nobel Laureate John Nash in the movie A Beautiful Mind. People with schizophrenia may hear voices, see things that aren’t there, fear they are in danger, and suffer other debilitating symptoms. It is typically treated with medication supported by psychotherapy, but Ben-Zeev says this may be insufficient for several reasons.

Dartmouth IT Security Institute Gets New Leadership

Office of Public Affairs

Professor of Computer Science Sean Smith is assuming the leadership of Dartmouth’s Institute for Security, Technology, and Society (ISTS). The institute is dedicated to pursuing research and education to advance information security and privacy throughout society.

The torch has been passed to him by Denise Anthony, associate professor of sociology and director of ISTS since 2008. “I can move on from my position as director knowing that it is in Sean’s capable hands,” says Anthony. “Sean is a leading thinker in computer security and privacy research, and he is also an excellent teacher and collaborator who embodies the mission of ISTS.”

Anthony is embarking on a nine-month sabbatical and will continue to be involved in collaborative research projects through ISTS focused on privacy and healthcare IT as well as efforts to promote STEM education and career opportunities for women and minorities.

Algorithm: A Ninth-Century Term for 21st-Century Computing

Joseph Blumberg

Computer scientist Thomas Cormen still remembers that he “only got an A minus” in his algorithms course at Princeton. This minor blemish on his academic record didn’t stop Cormen, a New Yorker, from graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Curiously, it turns out that much of his professional life has revolved around the science of algorithms.

Whether we know it or not, our lives revolve around algorithms. Much of what we do today depends on computers, and algorithms are the step-by-step sets of instructions a computer must follow in order to do its job.

“Algorithms are at the core of all things digital,” says Cormen, a professor and chair of Dartmouth’s Department of Computer Science. “They run on your laptop, your smartphone, your GPS device, and in systems imbedded in your car, your microwave oven—everywhere.”

Safeguarding Medical Information in Cyberspace (VPR)

Private medical records have moved from filing cabinets to cyberspace, raising concerns about the privacy and security of personal health and medical information systems found in mobile devices or cloud-based services, notes VPR.

As the story points out, research led by Dartmouth’s David Kotz, associate dean of the faculty for the sciences and the Champion International Professor in the Department of Computer Science, will look for ways to safeguard health and medical records.

“Now with these mobile technologies, people can use these computing devices pretty much anywhere, so that means that we are collecting information from more parts of your life, from more places in your life than you might have been comfortable having collected,” Kotz tells VPR. “So it raises a whole lot of privacy issues that we would certainly like to ameliorate.”

The research is funded by a $10-million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, VPR reports.

Listen to the full story, broadcast 8/23/13 on VPR.

Software That Exposes Faked Photos (The New York Times)

New software developed by Dartmouth’s Hany Farid and his colleagues can determine whether a photo is fake—or has been altered—by analyzing shadows that cannot be seen by the naked eye, reports The New York Times.

The software, says Farid, may be helpful in the field of photo forensics, which the Times points out is increasingly important in the age of Photoshop and other image-manipulation software.

The software is able to analyze an image in ways the naked eye cannot, notes the Times. “Perceptual studies show that the brain is largely insensitive to gross inconsistencies in shadows,” Farid, a professor of computer science, tells the newspaper. “That means that an analyst may not be very good at determining whether shadows are real or not. But more importantly, it means a forger may not notice when he or she places an incorrect shadow on an image.”

Read the full story, published 8/19/13 by The New York Times.

Dartmouth-Led Team Receives NSF Health Care Cybersecurity Grant

Joseph Blumberg

Dartmouth has been awarded a $10-million, five-year grant from the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research into ways of safeguarding  the confidentiality of personal health and medical information as these records make the transition from paper files to electronic systems.

David Kotz, Dartmouth’s associate dean of the faculty for the sciences and the Champion International Professor in the Department of Computer Science, will lead an interdisciplinary and multi-institution project team which includes experts in computer science, business, behavioral health, health policy, and health care information technology.

“This project tackles many of the fundamental computer science research challenges to providing trustworthy information systems for health and wellness, as sensitive information and health-related tasks are increasingly pushed into mobile devices and cloud-based services,” Kotz says.

North Korea’s Latest Military Image Photoshopped? (MSN News)

MSN News turns to Dartmouth’s Hany Farid to confirm whether or not a recent photo released by the North Korean government is fake. According to Farid, a digital forensics expert and professor of computer science, the photo, which depicts military hovercraft and soldiers on a beach, was altered.

Farid noticed several signs, including “cloning,” indicating that the image had been altered. “The drawback is, if you duplicate something, the eye can see it,” Farid tells MSN News. “What they tried to do was make it look like there were more hovercrafts, but what they cloned is an actual object, and we’re pretty good at noticing that.”

Read the full story, published 3/28/13 on MSN News.

Texting While Walking Draws Safety Concerns—And An App (WGBH)

By releasing an app that prevents pedestrians from getting hit by traffic, Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group has joined a growing debate about “distracted walking.”

The group, led by Computer Science Professor Andrew Campbell, has developed a free application for Android phones called WalkSafe. It uses the Android’s camera to detect oncoming cars and alert the phone’s user.

“Smartphones are getting smarter,” Campbell said. “They have a number of in-built sensors. … These sensors allow the phone, for the first time, to mimic human perception.”

Read the full story, published on 12/20/11 by WGBH.

Dartmouth Smartphone App Targets Driver Safety

Joseph Blumberg

“CarSafe” is a driver safety app that detects dangerous driving behavior using dual-cameras on smartphones. This is the latest smartphone app to come out of Dartmouth and is featured in the September 25 NewScientist. The Android app was developed by Professors Andrew Campbell and Lorenzo Torresani in the Department of Computer Science, and Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group.

The new app offers safety features typically found only in top-of-the-line cars. Simply mount the phone on the windshield with one camera facing the driver and the other facing the road. It operates with navigation apps and monitors the driver and the road while calling attention to dangerous conditions.

The video below, produced by Giuseppe Cardone of the University of Bologna, provides more details on the app and its operation. Cardone was a visiting PhD student working with Campbell and has since returned to Bologna.

Dartmouth Research Imparts Momentum to Mobile Health

Joseph Blumberg

Bracelets and amulets are in the works at Dartmouth’s Institute for Security, Technology, and Society. Rather than items of mere adornment, the scientists and engineers are constructing personal mobile health (mHealth) devices—highly functional jewelry, as it were. mHealth is a rapidly growing field where technology helps you or your physician monitor your health through mobile devices. This approach can offer more accurate and timely diagnoses as well as lower health costs. However, smartphones are often used to transmit collected medical information, and these transmissions are vulnerable to hacking.

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