MacArthur Fellows Program

Shwetak Patel

Sensor Technologist and Computer Scientist | Class of 2011

Inventing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensor systems that leverage existing infrastructures to enable users to track household energy consumption and to make the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs.

Title
Sensor Technologist and Computer Scientist
Affiliation
University of Washington
Location
Seattle, Washington
Age
29 at time of award

Shwetak Patel is a computer scientist who has invented a series of sensor technology systems for home environments with the goal of saving energy and improving daily life through a broad range of applications. Much of his work to date has focused on the development of low-cost and easy-to-deploy devices that can detect and measure household energy consumption without an elaborate network of expensive instruments. To allow residents to track their energy usage down to the level of individual appliances and fixtures, Patel's distinctive approach leverages existing infrastructure — such as gas lines, electrical wiring, plumbing, and ventilation ducts — and requires only a minimal number of small, wirelessly connected sensors attached to the central hookup of each of these utility sources. When coupled with a machine learning algorithm that analyzes patterns of activity and the signature noise produced by each appliance, the sensors enable users to measure and disaggregate their energy and water consumption and to detect inefficiencies more effectively. In addition to the resource conservation applications of his sensor systems, Patel is also exploring their potential for home security or elder care, as they serve the related function of sensing human activity and monitoring movement throughout a building's rooms. While envisioning cutting-edge new tools to address pressing social challenges and to make the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs, Patel devises elegant, simple solutions that dramatically reduce the cost of implementation.

Shwetak Patel received a B.S. (2003) and a Ph.D. (2008) from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since 2008, he has been an assistant professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington.

News About this Fellow
June 2, 2017
"Season 1, Ep. 1: The Ultimate Medical Device — A Smartphone"
GeekWire Health Tech
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
November 18, 2015
"UW Researchers Develop Hyperspectral Camera in Conjunction With Microsoft"
The Daily of the University of Washington
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
June 4, 2015
"UW Researchers Looking into Field of Ubiquitous Computing"
The Daily of the University of Washington
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
January 13, 2015
"Geniuses Unite: An Atlanta Lawyer Becomes a MacArthur Fellow"
Atlanta Magazine
Elizabeth Turk, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
Jonathan Rapping, 2014 MacArthur Fellow
November 18, 2014
"Seattle Genius Tackles Energy, Healthcare and the Future of Computing"
Crosscut Public Media
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
March 19, 2014
"CCC-University of Washington-Ubiquitous Computing Lab"
Computing Research Association
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
View all news

Photos

Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY.
Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.


More Fellows

View All 2011 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.