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UW researchers have found a way to power wireless devices without batteries or wires. Photo courtesy of the University of Washington.

The impressive work coming out of University of Washington’s computer science department was on full display Wednesday evening inside the Paul G. Allen Center.

As part of the University of Washington’s Industry Affiliates Annual Meeting, nearly 100 research groups made up of more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students showed off their work in a poster and demo session. Industry representatives, regional alumni and friends of the department were on hand to see everything from eyes-free yoga to home gesture recognition with Wi-Fi.

Seattle’s Madrona Venture Partners has awarded the Madrona Prize for the past eight years to the research with the greatest commercial potential. This year’s $750 prize went to a group of researchers working on a wireless communication system that does not need batteries or wires for power, instead relying on something called “ambient backscatter” that uses existing energy around us from TV and cellular transmissions to power devices. 

Madrona has backed two startups out of the UW CSE department — SNUPI Technologies and GraphLab — in just this year alone. Over the years, the firm has invested in 11 companies from the department.

Here are the winners from Wednesday’s event:

Madrona Prize ($750 each)

Ambient Back Scatter: Battery Free CommunicationAaron Parks, Vincent Liu, Vamsi Talla

Runner-Up ($250 each)

Personalized SLAs in the CloudJennifer Ortiz, Victor Texeira de Almeida

Runner-Up ($250 each)

iHome 3D:  Capturing Indoor Scenes with SmartphoneAditya Senkar

Runner-Up ($250 each)

WiSee:  Whole Home Gesture Recognition Using WiFiRuth Ravichandran, Sidhant Gupta, Qi Fan Pu

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