Grand Challenges, Unconventional Approaches

Caltech has a proven record of advancing solutions the toughest scientific and technological problems. Toward this end, the new Center for Sensing to Intelligence (S2I) will focus on three grand challenges:

Surpassing the human senses: New generations of machines that wed data processing with “super-senses” (vision, smell, sound/speech recognition, and touch) to drive advances across human health, scientific discovery, and sustainability

Detecting the undetectable: Smart, miniaturized sensors to improve health, safety, and sustainability by detecting targets ranging from small tumors deep in the body to hazardous materials in soil, water, and air

Predicting the unpredictable: Broad networks of sensors on land, in water, and in air to enable reliable, accurate, and timely prediction of disasters, including draughts, earthquakes, and wildfires

To tackle these challenges, we will foster the vigorous exchange of ideas among talented, creative scholars who bring diverse perspectives and skills to approach S2I-related questions in new and often unexpected ways.

A Century of Sensing Innovations

Caltech has a long legacy of S2I-related discoveries.

  • Astrophysical sensors and techniques to detect and interpret gravitational waves and light across X-ray, optical, infrared, microwave, and radio wavelengths
  • Seismic networks and procedures to measure earthquakes and transmit alerts
  • Instruments and methods to measure isotopes in rocks and fossils and reconstruct Earth’s geobiological evolution, with findings from Earth’s age to dinosaurs’ body temperatures
  • The automated DNA sequencer and new approaches that enabled high-speed sequencing of human and other genomes
  • The automated DNA sequencer and new approaches that enabled high-speed sequencing of human and other genomes
  • Ultrafast laser technology and techniques to observe and analyze chemical reactions
  • The first integration of computer science, neuroscience, and physics, yielding pioneering neural networks and deep learning approaches
  • Brain implants that detect intentions, enabling people with paralysis to direct prostheses to move smoothly, without incremental instructions