An Amador Valley student has been named a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) 2015, which recognizes young innovators in the United States who are creating technologies and solutions that aim to positively impact people's lives.
"It's still unbelievable," high school senior Janel Lee said in an email. "To be honest, I thought my research subject was somewhat more modest and simple compared to people who were claiming to cure cancer or something to that end."
Lee, who was selected from 300 semifinalists and more than 1,800 entrants, applied to the Intel STS by submitting a full research paper and written essays, as well as showing her involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Her research, titled "An Enhanced Method for HDR Imaging: Artifact-Free and Optimized for Mobile Devices," focuses on high dynamic range (HDR) imaging.
According to Lee, most real world scenes have a high dynamic range that can't be completely captured by sensors. In order to create an HDR image, low dynamic range (LDR) images at different exposures are stacked on top of each other.
HDR imaging assumes that there are perfect conditions, such as the LDR images being lined up, so it's not practical for handheld devices, Lee said.
"I proposed an algorithm to avoid artifacts (distortions) caused by unsatisfied conditions," she added.
Lee developed an algorithm that addressed the distortions and then optimized that algorithm on a mobile platform using heterogeneous computing -- systems that use more than one kind of processor.
She said she kept in mind the computing power constraints of mobile devices but was able to achieve a "more effective and efficient algorithm."
As a Top 40 finalist, Lee will present her research work in Washington, D.C, where she will compete with other students for more than $1 million in awards provided by the Intel Foundation.
According to officials from the Society for the Science & the Public, three Medal of Distinction awards of $150,000 each will be presented to students who show exceptional scientific potential in basic research, global good and innovation. In addition, there will be three second-place awards of $75,000 and three third-place awards of $35,000.
"I don't know about my project being chosen for a top award, but I will continue to work hard on research and will do my best at Washington, D.C.," Lee said.
In preparation for the Intel STS, Lee has been testing a few more ideas and wrapping up all the research she has done so far. She also plans to show her presentation to family and friends to receive some feedback on her work.
According to Lee, she has been working on this research project for almost a year-and-a-half. She has always been interested in HDR imaging but her research inspiration came from her daily life.
"I have a HDR feature on my own smartphone camera, but it takes five times as long to use using the normal setting, and the result doesn't even look as good," Lee said. "I couldn't understand why we had such advanced technology on our phones if people weren't even going to use it."
Her research solution was initially going to be used for herself and her pictures, but Lee said she has gained more confidence in her research that she hopes to share her solution with others.
Two other Tri-Valley high school seniors will be joining Lee at the Intel STS in March -- Augustine Chemparathy and Saranesh Prembabu from Dougherty Valley High School.