What are good innovative IT projects

In the “Innovation Cluster for Embedded Software” (ICES), Microsoft, together with ETH Zurich and EPFL, supports innovative IT projects with up to one million francs. The seven winning projects have now been presented.

In the control of cars, in cell phones, airplanes, GPS systems or in the S-Bahn that brings us to work in the morning, these computers automatically control, regulate and organize complex work. So-called "embedded software" is used to control these computers.

To support this important field of research, Microsoft, together with ETH Zurich and EPFL, launched the “Innovation Cluster for Embedded Software” (ICES) research program in March of this year. For Professor Jürg Gutknecht, Head of the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich, ICES is an important step in the cooperation with industry: “The cooperation with leading IT providers brings new perspectives and questions to research and is also an opportunity for our students. "

The program is designed for five years and has a budget of up to one million francs in the first year. During this period, various research projects will be advertised that will further develop the "embedded software" and convert it into innovative products. The ICES Steering Committee has now selected the first seven projects.

Innovative projects

This also includes the project “Virtual OSGi Infrastructure for Embedded Software” by Gustavo Alonso, Professor of Computer Science at the Institute for Pervasive Computing. The aim of the project is to develop a standard platform for the development of "embedded software" in order to reduce the costs for the development and administration of the program code. To this end, tried and tested technologies and standards are being adapted and expanded. This is done on the basis of the OSGi framework (Open Services Gateway Initiative). For Gustavo Alonso, the advantages of collaboration are obvious: “Such collaborations increase the visibility of the results, simplify technology transfer and give students the opportunity to exchange ideas with specialists from the field. The experience gained in programs such as ICES is invaluable for the careers of young researchers. "

Another project by the ETH researchers is concerned with high-performance motion detection for embedded computers. The team led by Marc Pollefeys, Professor of Computer Science, is developing a computer vision system that can recognize the movements of individual objects within larger collections. The system can distinguish between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles from a filmed traffic situation. For example, the traffic flow could be evaluated automatically or the number of people using a tram at a certain time could be analyzed. Traffic planners could use this knowledge for the use of vehicles or for a traffic light control.

Dr. Felix Friedrich from the Institute for Computer Systems supervised the third ETH project deals with pocket-sized supercomputers. The aim is to develop a parallel computer platform for embedded systems. The parallel hardware and software architecture creates a portable high-performance computer for safety-critical applications. For example, an ultrasound heart monitor is planned that will automatically detect abnormalities in the blood flow and the movement of the heart. “So far, ultrasound images have been evaluated statically by people. In the future, a computer will be able to analyze this automatically in real time, ”says Friedrich.

Networking between science and industry

The aim of ICES is to promote the exchange of knowledge between the project teams, universities and industry. In addition, the initiative aims to make IT research more attractive and to expand technology transfer into the Swiss economy. In the coming years, further industrial partners are to be won for additional financing. “Computer science is the backbone of a strong knowledge and innovation location in Switzerland and is of crucial importance for our competitiveness. With ICES we take our responsibility seriously and ensure that the computer science course becomes even more attractive and practical, ”emphasizes Peter Waser, General Manager Microsoft Switzerland.