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Elin Björling and Project EMAR receive CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund


June 23, 2020

Elin Bjorling with EMAR robot
Dr. Elin Björling

Dr. Elin Björling, senior research scientist and lecturer in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, has received an Innovation Gap Fund grant by the University of Washington's CoMotion and Population Health Initiative.

The one-year, $50,000, Innovation Gap Fund will support Björling and Maya Cakmak, assistant professor in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, to develop a robust prototype for Project EMAR to enable school implementation studies in the fall.

Project EMAR, or Ecological Momentary Assessment Robot, gathers stress and mood data while providing unique micro-interventions to teens in a school based setting. For the past four years, students, faculty, and researchers on Project EMAR have been co-designing robot interactions with teens to determine how a social robot can be used as an appropriate, ethical, and engaging tool. 

The four years of research with twelve public high schools and over 300 teens has led the team to determine the principles and requirements necessary for a successful school-based social robot. Now, with support from the Innovation Gap Fund, Project EMAR will be able to bridge the gap to manufacturing, by connecting the team with manufacturers capable of producing a robust prototype.

Over the next year, Project EMAR hopes to begin pilot testing of a new prototype in a regional school district, studying efficacy, usability, adoption, and disruption. 

The Innovation Gap Fund supports projects that have a high chance to have impact. The award includes funds allocated for business development milestones that are managed by CoMotion. Advisors from the CoMotion community assist with the project and advise on best strategies for developing innovations. 

This award is made possible by funding support from the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund, the University of Washington Population Health Initiative, and the Washington Research Foundation. 

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