The White House Frontiers Conference is pleased to offer public, open hours for the conference exhibit hall located on the first floor of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, on the University of Pittsburgh campus from 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, on Thursday, October 13th. Please enter on the Tennyson Street side of the venue. No registration is necessary to attend. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience exhibits representing elements of the five discussion tracks of the conference.

Restoring Movement and Touch with Brain Interfaces 

(University of Pittsburgh)

The Rehab Neural Engineering Labs at the University of Pittsburgh, with funding from DARPA, have demonstrated that people with spinal cord injury can control a lifelike robotic arm using neural signals from electrodes implanted in a part of the brain that controls movement. The laboratory can also generate sensations that feel like pressure on the hand or fingers by electrically stimulating a part of the brain that is responsible for feeling touch. The goal of this research is to restore arm and hand function to people after injury.

Using Games to Map the Brain

(Princeton University, Eyewire, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity)

Through Eyewire, a quarter million gamers are helping discover uncharted 3D neural circuits. New visualizations at the Frontiers Conference will allow users to explore a Neuron Safari in immersive virtual reality and interact with a web-based research lab: the Eyewire Museum. In addition, the creators of Eyewire will reveal the first glimpse of Neo, a new game coming in 2017 that will invite gamers to solve puzzles of perception. EyeWire's latest project  connects citizen science with data collected by the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Baylor College of Medicine as part of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency's Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks program. At the Frontiers Conference, the creators of Eyewire will also reveal the first glimpse of Neo, a new game coming in 2017 that will invite gamers to solve puzzles of perception. Researchers at Princeton University have also received funding for EyeWire from the National Institutes of Health as part of the BRAIN Initiative.

Mapping the Brain Through Citizen Neuroscientists

(University of Washington, Allen Institute for Brain Science, and the National Science Foundation)

Mozak is a new science-discovery community that aims to significantly speed up neuroscience discoveries, by bringing together teams of people from all walks of life to develop a new generation of citizen neuroscientists. The first phase of Mozak—funded by the National Science Foundation and announced at Frontiers—will allow citizen scientists to reconstruct 3D neuron structures in order to reveal each cell’s unique identity by cataloguing its distinct structural signatures. Mozak’s initial goal is to reconstruct several neurons per day—providing data that scientists urgently need to distinguish how one neuron differs from another. Future phases of Mozak will engage the community around building a "periodic table" of neurons and generating predictive models of how neurons work together.

Diagnosing Mental Illness with Multimodal Behavior Perception

(Carnegie Mellon University)

MultiSense is a behavior-sensing technology designed to help clinicians and healthcare providers diagnose and treat mental-health illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. MultiSense automatically recognizes subtle changes in the patient's facial expressions, eye gaze patterns, vocal prosody, and other nonverbal cues to identify behavior indicators related to mental illness. These measures allow the clinician to track the progress of a patient during treatment and can be used as a decision-support tool during early screening or diagnosis.

Developing Continuous Patient Monitoring for Cardiovascular Health 

(Stanford University and the Food and Drug Administration)

Stanford University has developed a powerful toolkit to precisely quantify individual cardiovascular health and assess the risk of future health concerns. The MyHeart Counts phone app provides large-scale, real-world assessment of physical activity, fitness, sleep, and medical history, helping to elucidate environmental and genetic mechanisms that influence health.  FDA has developed the precisionFDA platform to provide a free, open source, cloud-based space where participants share DNA sequence data, ideas and DNA mapping techniques to improve our ability to create high quality DNA sequencing diagnostic tests.  Efforts like these will improve disease management and clinical outcomes.

Enhancing Science and Discovery with Ultra-Low-Cost Paper Microscopes

(Stanford University)

Stanford University has developed low-cost, paper microscopes with 2000X magnification and accompanying add-ons that allow easy connection to mobile phones and other devices. In the past year, more than 55,000 paper microscopes have been distributed in more than 130 countries, for use in public heath, science education, and globalization of science. Current plans include the production and distribution of one million additional microscopes within the next two years. At the Frontiers Conference, scientists will demo the device and help attendees assemble their own microscope to use in observations and explorations.

Engaging Citizens with the Precision Medicine Initiative

(National Institutes of Health)

Institutes of Health has brought together a consortia of creative and cutting-edge organizations—including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Verily, the Scripps Translational Science Institute, the Broad Institute, Vibrent Health, Sage Bionetworks, and Wondros—to create prototype technologies and engagement strategies for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. At the Frontiers Conference, the team will demonstrate creative content and preliminary user-experience design, including a two-minute video on precision medicine. Visitors will have an early opportunity to learn about the PMI Cohort Program and provide feedback through flash interviews. This valuable input is in support of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative.

Learning Practices of Making

(Children's Museum of Pittsburgh)

Through a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the New York Hall of Science, has engaged in a multi-year study of family learning in museum-based makerspaces. The focus of this work has been to work at the intersection of research and practice to identify Learning Practices of Making. The research strives to identify observable, reportable evidence of learners’ engagement in making as a learning process and works to provide a common language to guide ongoing efforts among researchers and practitioners.

Using Flying Machines to Assess Infrastructure in Hard-to-Reach Locations

(Carnegie Mellon University)

The Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University has developed an autonomous flying-machine system to improve the efficiency, fidelity, and safety of current critical-infrastructure inspection methods by combining human judgment with machine intelligence. This robot provides real-time imagery of inspection locations without GPS and can measure small, 3D deformations of infrastructure. The information it collects is then presented in an intuitive interface to inform researchers, engineers, and other infrastructure professionals. This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation National Robotics Initiative.

Addressing Social Need through Assistive Technology Innovations

(Mouse Design League)

Mouse Design League is a youth design and technology program through which high school students learn about human-centered design and work with professional mentors to create technologies that address a social need. Youth from the NYC program will demonstrate assistive and adaptive technologies that they've developed over the course of the yearlong program, co-designed alongside user clients from United Cerebral Palsy. Two projects built by students in the Mouse Design League are being presented at the Frontiers Conference. Panda's Box is a joystick controlled "wheelchair wallet" that helps wheelchair users with limited arm mobility access small objects, such as metro cards, more easily. SpeakEZ is a mobile app designed to help the hearing impaired communicate with those who cannot speak sign language and vice versa.

Displaying Autonomous Vehicles over Time

(Carnegie Mellon University)

This demonstration will showcase the evolution of autonomous vehicles over three decades of Federal research investment, including improvements in computer vision, sensors, scanning, and obstacle-avoidance technologies. The demo includes the Terragator, developed in 1984, which was capable of a top speed of only a few centimeters per second; Boss, the winner of the 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge; and a current research vehicle that integrates autonomous systems into a commercially available Cadillac SRX.

Inspiring Girls through Robotics

(Carnegie Mellon University)

Girls of Steel Robotics is a K-12 outreach program of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University with a mission to empower women and girls in the pursuit of STEM by exemplifying female success in robotics. Through FIRST® robotics teams, public demonstrations, and summer camps, Girls of Steel don’t just build robots for competitions—they also serve as role models, inspiring peers and younger students in the community.  The team will exhibit the chassis building kit that it constructed and used at workshops to introduce middle school students to robotics.

Snake Robot and Snake Monster

(Carnegie Mellon University)

Carnegie Mellon University will be demoing two biologically inspired robots designed to help navigate places that are hard for humans to reach. Snake robot can thread through tight spaces in order to reach locations that people and large machinery cannot, and snake monster is a six-legged walker that can negotiate rough terrains. Funded by the Army Research Office, DARPA, and the National Science Foundation National Robotics Initiative, these machines can walk over rubble and other deconstructed spaces, making these machines useful for search, rescue, and archeology in confined spaces.

CoBot Service Robots

(Carnegie Mellon University)

The CMU CORAL lab researches and develops autonomous mobile-service robots, called Collaborative Robots or CoBots. For the last three years, CORAL's four CoBots have autonomously navigated over 1,000km and multiple floors of the CMU computer science department using effective real-time mobile robot localization and navigation algorithms, symbiotic human-robot interaction, and multi-task, multi-robot dynamic task planning. Users request service tasks and the robots navigate different types of constraints, including collaboration among multiple robots. The CoBots proactively seek external sources of help to fill in occasional missing information. The CoBot robot research was supported primarily by a National Science Foundation grant.

The Mobility Enhancement Robotic Wheelchair

(University of Pittsburgh)

The Mobility Enhancement Robotic Wheelchair (MEBot), created by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh, is built to tackle both curbs and challenging terrains in order to increase safety and seating stability for wheelchair users. The large center driving wheels can reposition themselves to simulate front-, mid-, or rear-wheel driving. The four smaller caster wheels are controlled with compressed air and move up and down freely and independently. For climbing curbs, the front caster wheels lift up onto the curb, and then the driving wheels lift themselves up and forward onto the curb, which lifts the chair onto the curb. This is done automatically, whenever MEBot senses a curb or step. The ultimate goal is for MEBot to climb a set of stairs.

The Socially Aware Robot Assistant

(Carnegie Mellon University)

The Socially Aware Robot Assistant relies on forming an interpersonal bond with people it interacts with in order to personalize the interaction and improve task performance. Specifically, the robot assistance pairs each task goal (such as helping a person navigate a conference) with a social goal (such as ensuring that the robot assistance’s interaction style results in a better working relationship between human and robot over time). The robot assistant accomplishes this innovative approach to agent assistance by using artificial intelligence.

Energy Inventor Labs

(University of Pittsburgh)

The Constellation Energy Inventor Labs encourages students to creatively design and build energy-tech prototypes. Using Design-Build challenges that integrate energy and engineering concepts—like thermoelectricity, the photovoltaic effect, and electromagnetism—students capture, create, and/or convert energy in order to achieve multiple tasks. These team-oriented, hands-on, open-ended challenges incorporate design thinking alongside prototype analysis, prompting students to engage in higher-level cognitive tasks. Students participating in the Energy Inventor Labs increase learning gains, improve self-efficacy, and gain interest in engineering and energy innovation.

Climate Playground

(Climate and Urban Systems Partnership)

The Climate & Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) is a National Science Foundation--funded network of organizations which encourage Pittsburgh residents to explore local climate change impacts and solutions. Each of the hands-on activities in the Climate Playground focuses on a specific topic, with multiple partners and activities coming together to highlight the connections between climate, systems, and solutions. The CUSP hands-on activities, ranging from storm-water stations to board games, are designed for all ages and focus on the science of solutions.

Wave Energy Prize

(Department of Energy and Harvest Wave Energy)

The Wave Energy Prize is a public prize challenge sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Water Power Program. The prize is designed to drive the development of Wave Energy Converter (WEC) technologies that double state-of-the-art energy absorption from waves. DOE’s goal is to increase the diversity of organizations involved in Wave Energy Converter (WEC) technology development and motivate and inspire existing stakeholders in order to put wave energy on the path to becoming competitive with other energy sources on a commercial scale. Harvest Wave Energy, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is one of the nine finalist teams for the Wave Energy Prize and will be presenting at the Frontiers Conference.

Geoscience Data Visualization

(National Center for Atmospheric Research)

The National Center for Atmospheric Research will use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools to engage and educate users about climate change, hurricanes, and other earth-science topics. This exhibit uses mobile-app technology to interactively display geoscience data, making the science more accessible to the general public. Additionally, eye-catching science animations are presented to highlight state-of-the-art techniques for visualizing and communicating climate and weather data.           


(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

NASA’s hyperwall provides new perspectives of Earth’s environment, the sun, the solar system, and beyond. The hyperwall is a video wall capable of displaying multiple high-definition data-visualizations and images simultaneously across an arrangement of screens. The hyperwall helps explain phenomena, ideas, or examples of world change. NASA satellite, telescope, and model data are used to highlight particular themes in Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science. Many hyperwall stories reveal change across space and time, while others display large-scale, still-images accompanied by descriptive, story-telling captions.

Journey to Mars

(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

NASA is learning new information from decades of robotic missions, including the orbiters and rovers currently exploring the Red Planet. NASA is readying the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to send humans into deep space, including a mission to orbit Mars in the early 2030s. NASA's Journey to Mars exhibit incorporates critical work being done across the agency. The work will build on the extraordinary accomplishments of NASA's scientific exploration of the Red Planet, while advancing the development of new cross-cutting space technologies that also have potential for applications here on Earth.

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory 

(The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration)

On September, 14 2015, two giant laser interferometers known as LIGO made the first direct detection of gravitational waves from the merger of a pair of massive black holes more than a billion light years from the Earth. This observation, predicted by Einstein 100 years ago, opened a new window to the Universe through gravitational wave astronomy. In the interactive exhibit, the LIGO team will demonstrate the remarkable science and technology behind this discovery, which was possible due to the long-term support of the National Science Foundation.

Commercial Crew

(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

In 2014, NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts to develop the first commercial spacecraft systems to restore America's ability to launch crew from U.S. soil.

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft. In 2015, SpaceX successfully tested the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will be on display at the White House Frontiers Conference. The test, known as a Pad Abort Test, was a key demonstration for ensuring astronaut safety during human spaceflight. The vehicle also underwent propulsive descent testing, essentially tests of the spacecraft's 3D printed engines, which will eventually allow the spacecraft to land propulsively with the accuracy of a helicopter anywhere on Earth. 

Boeing CST-100 Starliner Flight Simulator. The Boeing CST-100 Starliner Simulator allows participants to fly a manual final approach and docking to the International Space Station's Node 2 Harmony module. Participants sit in the mission commander's seat, while an instructor is seated beside them as a co-pilot. After receiving a quick instructional briefing on how to fly a spacecraft, participants are given manual control. Starting ten meters from the space station, participants will use the simulator flight controls to maneuver down the docking corridor while maintaining the proper amount of forward speed—fast enough to engage the docking clamps but not fast enough to damage the station. The simulation ends with a successful (or unsuccessful) docking. The total duration of the experience is approximately five minutes.