University of Rochester

Workshop on Intelligent Systems for Assisted Cognition

Co-hosted by:
Microsoft ResearchUniversity of Rochester

October 12 - 13, 2007
Rochester, New York

Official Schedule
List of Participants

The workshop was a great success. We thank all attendees and sponsors for their participation.

There is an emerging field of interdisciplinary research on devices and environments designed to help people with cognitive disabilities due to aging, disease, or accident live with greater independence, safety, and community integration. This field, sometimes called "cognitive orthotics" or "assisted cognition", is inherently interdisciplinary, and involves researchers from computer science (including artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and pervasive computing), medical caregiving (including gerontology, rehabilitation medicine, nursing, and public health), rehabilitation engineering, and architecture and design.

Today's assistive technology for people with cognitive impairments has limited functionality (for example, simple timer-based reminder systems) or requires extensive manual customization (for example, wander-alert systems that sound an alarm if a user moves out of a pre-designated neighborhood). Researchers are beginning to envision systems that will use a variety of wearable or environmental sensors to infer a user's context and cognitive state, so that prompts, reminders, and other forms of automatic intervention will be appropriate and non-distracting. Machine learning will be used to create customized user profiles with little manual input, and to update profiles as users' conditions change. Tasks that will be addressed include navigation, remediation of memory impairments, behavioral self-regulation, and monitoring and guidance in the performance of activities of daily living.

This workshop will provide a forum where researchers from these diverse areas can come together to share ideas, problems, and technical developments. Participating groups will be eligible for a special grant competition sponsored by Microsoft Research, as described below.

Participation and Deadlines

Research groups from any of the fields mentioned above are invited to apply to participate in the workshop. Because the number of participants will be limited, we ask each group to submit a single application no later than August 1, 2007 (email submission is no longer available). The application should include:

  • The name, email, and postal address of the primary contact.

  • Names and emails of other group members who wish to attend. (The number invited to attend will depend upon the number of applications received.) If the primary contact cannot attend both days of the workshop, we encourage you to also include a colleague or student who can.

  • A white paper, three or more pages long, that summarizes your group’s accomplishments and your current and future research plans. The paper should emphasize the motivation, design decisions, and methodology of your work.

  • A recent representative technical paper, that may be published or under review.

  • Whether or not you intend to enter the grant competition.

All the files for an application should be placed into a zip file whose name is of the form “institution-applicant”, e.g. “” and sent as an attachment to the email address above. Applicants will be notified of participation decisions by September 1, 2007.

A limited number of slots may be available for persons who wish to attend the workshop but do not wish to submit a white paper. Such persons should submit a short statement no later than August 22, 2007, explaining their background and reason for attending. Invitations to these additional participants will be issued by September 8, 2007.

Grant Competition

Microsoft Research has generously allocated $300,000 for research awards for work on assisted cognition systems. Shortly after the workshop, an independent panel of experts (not the workshop organizers) will review the application packages of participating groups for an awards competition. Participants will be given an opportunity to revise their original white paper before it is reviewed for an award. Six of the participating groups will receive unrestricted research awards of $50,000 each.

Workshop Logistics

The workshop will be held on the campus of the University of Rochester in upstate New York. The workshop will run from the morning of Friday, October 12 through the evening of Saturday, October 13. All meals during the conference will be provided without charge. For invited participants who submitted whitepapers by the August 1 deadline, accommodations will also be covered. Participants who wish to attend without submitting the white paper must provide their request by August 22, 2007 (as clarified above). Invited participants who are traveling in from out-of-town will receive information about special conference accommodations options in September. The city is served by the Rochester International Airport (ROC), which has connections to most major airline hubs.

Workshop Format

The workshop will include talks by invited guests, short presentations by the participants, and break out sessions where we will create an outline of problems and opportunities in research on assisted cognition systems. Due to time constraints, it might not be possible for all participants to give a full presentation, but this will not affect the judging of the grant competition. On Friday evening there will be a banquet at the George Eastman House Museum of Photography. The workshop will conclude Saturday evening with dinner and a jazz ensemble performance. Invited speakers (others to be announced) include:

  • Emma Berry and Georgina Browne (Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK) on The Role of SenseCam in Memory Rehabilitation
  • Matthai Philipose (Intel Research Seattle) on Monitoring Activities of Daily Living using RFID
  • Michael Tanenhaus (University of Rochester, Dept. Brain & Cognitive Science) on Integrating Perceptual Cues in Human Problem-Solving

Workshop Committee

  • Henry Kautz, University of Rochester (Chair)
  • Kristin Tolle, Microsoft Research
  • Martha Pollack, University of Michigan
  • Gaetano Borriello, University of Washington
  • Alex Mihailidis, University of Toronto

Additional Information

For more information specific to the grants offered by Microsoft Research, click here.