University of Pittsburgh
February 1, 2001


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1 -- Imagine walking down a grocery store aisle without coupons but rather a personal digital assistant telling you which products are on sale as you approach each item. Or, picture yourself using your personal information appliance as a virtual tour guide while walking through a museum. University of Pittsburgh professor Bruce R. Childers is hoping to make that possible.

Childers, assistant professor in Pitt's Department of Computer Science and the Computer Engineering Program, was recently selected to receive an IBM Faculty Partnership Award in the amount of $25,000. Given to the University on behalf of the IBM Austin Center for Advanced Studies, the money will be used to support Childers' research in the area of Power-Aware Information Appliances.

Information Appliances (IAs) are devices used with personal electronics. These include cellular phones, digital cameras, and personal digital assistants. In the future, these devices will be linked to one another, allowing communication between them. Eventually, it will be possible to take digital pictures while walking around town and instantly E-mail them to friends or post them on a web-site.

With this sort of communication between devices comes increased complexity and an increase in the energy needed to allow them to function efficiently. Childers' research will focus on "giving more functionality to these devices while keeping the energy cost low."

In addition, he hopes to give software programs more direct control over the hardware in IAs. By increasing how closely the hardware and software work together, the amount of energy needed for the device has the potential to be substantially reduced.

Childers looks forward to using the grant from IBM to help establish a laboratory in power-aware computing. "The lab will further our ability to research and understand ways to build small, smart devices, such as virtual tour guides, that can run on batteries for days and weeks on end," he said. "It will also help us to train and prepare future engineers and scientists in one of the most important emerging areas of computer science and engineering."

Childers graduated with a B.S. degree from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Prior to his current research, he developed a system for the automatic design of application-specific processors.