Technology is powered by people. From engineers to end users, individuals propel forward the innovations that support and sustain our civilization. Informatics delves into the strategy behind these innovations, exposes their inner workings and blazes a trail to stunning advances in technological capability. Through incisive analysis and inspired creativity, informatics is the building block of a successful modern society.
Designing for inclusiveness
Traditionally, the “one size fits all” model of many classrooms has made it difficult to meet the needs of certain students. The Department of Informatics is expanding the horizons of childhood education by creating comfortable, customized experiences that adapt to children’s learning styles and individual situations. The emergence of innovative virtual and augmented reality platforms presents opportunities to truly personalize learning experiences, especially for children with chronic health conditions or disabilities. As one example, we are developing learning environments for children and adults with autism that aim to increase their quality of life by supporting social and communication skills. As another, we are researching the use of telepresence robots to allow homebound children to attend class. And more is to come, with the relatively low cost of micro-electronics, 3D printing, and VR headsets setting the stage for a dramatic change in not only how we teach kids but also how we treat patients and help families. Informatics is at the forefront of exploring how best to exploit technology to reach the disenfranchised and better address the needs of all citizens.
Securing our cyberinfrastructure
Whether it is built by an individual at home, a small business or a corporate behemoth like Google, technology starts as an idea. Fleshing out that idea through design and development involves a multi-faceted process shaped by programming challenges, market competition and the ever-increasing scale of the systems we create. The Department of Informatics is a leader in addressing all aspects of technology production, including security aspects, which are essential to mitigating ever-increasing risks and privacy concerns. For example, our faculty members are working on tools such as RevealDroid, which applies a machine-learning- based approach to malware detection to better secure mobile apps. Another example is COVERT, a tool that aims to identify and address vulnerabilities created by the interaction of multiple apps. With these and other cutting-edge tools and approaches, in security and beyond, Informatics continuously seeks to push toward a safer, tech-enabled society.