The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

University of Kentucky Vis Center Researchers Win Award for Best Scientific Paper

Over one million children in the United States have voice disorders. These problems typically begin in childhood, and therefore can disrupt critical periods in development. Rita Patel, Ph. D., Kevin Donohue, Ph. D., and Harikrishnan Unnikrishnan study vocal fold motion in children. Vocal fold vibratory motion is needed for producing speech. They presented their paper “Analysis of high-speed digital phonoscopy pediatric images” at the XX Annual Pacific Voice conference on Optical Imaging, Therapeutics, and Advances Technology in Head and Neck Surgery and Otolaryngology held with the SPIE Photonics West Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA this January. They were presented with the Pacific Voice & Speech Foundation 2012 Award for Best Scientific Paper.

Vocal fold dysfunction limits the ability to speak and interact in society. Unfortunately, technical limitations have held back research into vocal fold motion, which is vital for measuring treatment outcomes. However, development in high-speed video systems created new research opportunities in vocal fold motion for more efficient diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Donohue pointed out that “This work is one of the first to describe and assess the processes for extracting quantitative information from high-speed video recordings of children.” They custom built a laser system to use alongside high-speed digital imaging to explore the relationship between the immature vocal system and the formation of vocal fold nodules.

Dr. Patel and Dr. Donohue hope that their research will help children suffering from vocal fold dysfunction. Dr. Patel added that “the goal or our research is to establish physiological biomarkers of unique vibratory features of vocal development with high speed digital imaging and to lay the foundation for development of biomechanical modeling and assessment tools” to detect at-risk children.

Vis Center Student Receives Award at Twin Cities IEEE Paper Competition

Jonathan Soli, an undergraduate who worked at the University of Kentucky’s Vis Center in the summer of 2011, recently won the Twin Cities IEEE Paper Competition and will move on to the IEEE Region 4 Student Paper Competition. Soli is a student at Hamline University. UK professor Kevin Donohue advised Soli on Soli’s Electrical and Computer Engineering REU project, “Verification of Simulated Acoustic Environments Utilizing Cross-Correlation and Power Spectral Density,”

“Imagine a noisy room full of people conversing and, with a hidden microphone array, having the ability to covertly focus on a specific conversation of interest,” Soli pointed out. Professor Donohue researches how to block extraneous sound and allow focused listening using microphone arrays.

Soli compared a computer simulated acoustic environment to a real acoustic environment. Propagation delays, secondary echo timing, and the sound decay as the sound reverberates through the room were the metrics most relevant for Soli’s project.

His project helps researchers know how to improve the computer simulation of acoustic environments. Soli established the current performance of the computer simulation software, so that now researchers can focus on improving the software quality. The simulator simplifies research on acoustic environments by simplifying optimization studies and avoiding the hassle of setting up a multitude of physical microphones.

At the Twin Cities competition, Soli won a cash prize and a spot in the IEEE Region 4 Student Paper Competition. He will travel to Indianapolis, IN for the competition on May 5th; the IEEE competition will be held in tandem with the 2012 Electro/Information Technology (EIT) Conference through IUPUI.

Improving Surgery with Multi-Spectral Imaging

Our sense of vision tells us much of what we know about the world around us; yet the human eye is only capable of sensing a very narrow spectrum of the light it receives, in wavelengths from about 400 to 700 nm. Current research being conducted at the Vis Center is investigating the possibility that broadening the range of imaged light could greatly improve a surgeon’s ability to identify anatomical features in minimally invasive surgery, adding visual cues not even available during open surgery.

Recently at the Emerging Technology Session of the 2010 World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery hosted by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons Matt Field, Vis Center Software Engineer, presented a poster describing a new research initiative into multi-spectral imaging. Entitled “Assessment of Multi-Spectral Imaging for Enhanced Visualization in Minimally Invasive Surgery”, the poster described early results from research with tissue samples.

The future application of this research will be to incorporate the findings of the experimental system into a prototype multi-spectral endoscope. An LED-based endoscopic light source will be modified to include these new light spectra. As this work is at a very early stage, testing will continue to conclusively determine the best possibilities for image enhancement.

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