Assistant Professor Jacob George

Electrical and computer engineering assistant professor Jacob George has received a $96,500 Ascender Grant from the University of Utah PIVOT Center to develop his lab’s latest technology that detects hand motions based on electrical signals from the wrist for commercial use. The fast paced project will last 80 days and enable his lab to turn the technology into a sleek, wearable device resembling a smartwatch.  

George’s lab currently uses a rough prototype to control prosthetic and orthotic devices for patients with neuromuscular disabilities. The technology uses a brain-computer interface to translate the user’s thoughts into commands carried out by a prosthetic. With the funding, George’s lab will transition the technology into a device for everyday use that will instead control numerous smart-home devices. Users will be able to intuitively open blinds or dim lights by simply raising or lowering their hand. 

“Our goal is to move this technology away from research with a small number of individuals to create an everyday product that everyone can use,” George said. “My hope is that our technology will be licensed and ready for the commercial market within the next few years.”

The Ascender Grant Program supports inventors in technology development, proof of concept, and preparing the innovation for additional investment by entrepreneurs, investors, and potential licensees. This grant will help George’s lab bridge the funding gap between research and commercialization. 

George recently received a $150,000 grant from Facebook Reality Labs also in support of this technology. Below is a video by Facebook Reality Labs demonstrating technology similar to that of George’s lab. To learn more about this project and find out about research opportunities, visit George’s lab.