SCE student/faculty researchers win prestigious award for mobile app, WiFi-Honk

With all judges agreeing, the mobile app, WiFi-Honk, developed by SCE faculty and student researchers received the Best Video Award at the ACM Mobisys 2014 conference, a highly selective and premiere conference in mobile computing.  The committee included renowned researchers from academia and industries such as Google and Microsoft Research.

Incorporating top-notch technical contributions (a provisional patent has been filed), WiFi-Honk enables vehicle drivers and pedestrians, even when under high mobility conditions, to automatically receive imminent road safety alerts using smartphones.  It automatically generates bi-directional alerts to drivers and pedestrians through smartphone vibrations, sound and/or screen message. Dr. Baek-Young Choi, Associate Professor of Computer Science, noted “Working as a team kept our passion through the rigorous process of the research – brainstorming, algorithm design, development, testing, refinement, presentation, and video making.  We are glad that our hard work is being recognized.”  WiFi-Honk developers include SCE student researchers Kaustubh Dhondge, Younghwan Jang, Hyungbae Park and Sunae Shin and SCE faculty Dr. Baek-Young Choi and Dr. Sejun Song.

One of the key ideas the team has developed is to use a bypass technique on WiFi for high speed vehicular communication that is not possible with the original WiFi protocol. Using an experiential approach, the WiFi-Honk team conducted road tests of WiFi-Honks’ performance by driving around the UMKC campus in cold winter weather.   With the insights and data gained from their experiments, they were able to refine many aspects of the algorithms and finalize the prototype they developed on Android smartphones.   Currently, a lot of pedestrian safety systems mostly use nighttime infrared cameras and other extra sensors in vehicles for pedestrian detection which warn drivers.  An alert is then, manually generated by a driver, relying on traditional sound honk.  However, a recent report shows that road users are increasingly shut out to external warning sounds, and distracted by smartphones such as listening to music, watching videos, texting or making calls while walking or bicycling.  WiFi-Honk delivers the safety alert using the devices that pedestrians are using thus increasing the likelihood of the warning being received.

Our congratulations to the WiFi-Honk team and best wishes for continued success as they research the possibilities the technology behind WiFi-Honk opens up to them.  According to Dr. Sejun Song, “We plan to investigate additional, diverse application scenarios. There is lots more to be done.”