Two research projects by the DTIC have been awarded ERC Proof of Concept grants

Two research projects by the DTIC have been awarded ERC Proof of Concept grants

Grants that promote research towards innovation. Of the fifteen proposals from Spain, two are being conducted by UPF researchers, Salvador Soto-Faraco and Marcelo Bertalmío.



On 31 January, the European Research Council announced the 133 projects, having been promoted by the ERC in their initial stages, that have now been selected to go one step further from research to innovation and commercialization.  These are Proof of Concept grants, provided with 150,000 euros each, with which the researchers can find new business opportunities, cover intellectual property costs, etc. 

For this call 2016, 133 selected proposals have been decided in the course of three qualifying rounds. In all rounds, it have been selected fifteen projects for Spain, two of them belong to research groups at the Department of Information Technology and Communications (DTIC) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Salvador Soto-Faraco, ICREA researcher and head of the Multisensory Research Group (MRG) at UPF’s DTIC, is the principal investigator of the project MNeuronic: A Mnemonic system based on stimulation-free Neuroimaging, which seeks to investigate the possibility of applying basic knowledge available from earlier studies to create brain-computer interfaces capable of optimizing the encoding of information in the memory by predicting optimal brain states in real time.

As Soto-Faraco explains, “naturally, the state of the brain fluctuates constantly. So every time any kind of information enters via the senses (e.g. a person’s face when we are introduced to them), it is encoded more or less effectively, partly depending on the brain state at the time”. And he adds, “at our laboratory some evidence of these brain states has been found that determine whether information will be processed better or worse”.  All these previous studies underpin MNeuronic and the search for possible applications.

Marcelo Bertalmío, head of the Processing for Enhanced Cinematography (IP4EC) research group at the DTIC, is to carry out the project VIPERCON:  Emulating visual perception of contrast for image capture, post-production and synthesis. With the research carried out with the Starting Grant, Bertalmío was able to propose a model of vision that can be used to accurately reproduce the contrast of a scene. The method is automatic, i.e., it does not require the user to select a setting, and computationally low in complexity, and so it can be used in real time. As Bertalmío stated, “it produces images and videos that look natural, without any artefacts (halos, spurious colours)”. The model was validated by means of several tests on users and is currently subject to a European patent application.

The main idea of ​​this Proof of Concept is, based on the proposed vision model, to develop a series of products for three different scenarios. First, a free web application and commercial mobile applications aimed at the general public. Second, commercial professional software: film, photography and video post-production. And, finally, the method has a potential use for other applications:  cameras, film, television and improving images in augmented reality visors.