Around the late 1960s, in the heyday of Xerox (even before IBM really got going), the former gathered the nation’s top minds in computers together in one giant research campus. There, staff at Xerox invented nearly everything we now associate with the modern PC: desktop computers, the mouse, Ethernet, windows, laser printers, and more.
Back then, a thousand teams worked for one company. While today, one or two teams are innovating at a thousand companies.
But who are really the ones to watch now?
After looking over hundreds of projects and dozens of top innovator roundups, here are our bets on a dozen tech innovators you’ll want to keep your eye on:
A new way to prevent software crashes
Computer scientist Andrey Rybalchenko has developed a new method for finding software bugs by focusing on what programs did well before they crashed, rather than testing for “bad things” that lead to crashes.
Improving program quality with automated verification
A team at Microsoft Research in Bangalore have found another approach to keeping software reliable and preventing crashes: by automating software verification.
Revolutionizing IT infrastructure and systems
By centrally managing its supercomputing clusters, researchers at Purdue University are providing more power to more faculty with greater efficiencies and a lesser cost.
Rewriting software on-the-fly
One of Professor Kim Hazelwood’s tools can rewrite software while a computer is executing it. A review of this tool proposes, “Imagine having a team of mechanics pull apart and re-tune your car’s engine as you hurtle down the highway, without the engine missing a stroke.”
New software could help 10 million Indians with speech disorders
Avaz, created by Indian Institute of Technology’s Ajit Narayanan, could help provide a voice to people in India who suffer from speech disorders. The software converts head or finger movements into speech. What’s more, it’s the cheapest such solution available.
Literacy through icons
Microsoft Research’s Indrani Medhi uses symbols, audio cues, and cartoons that are specific to specific poor communities to help create interfaces for some of the nearly one-billion people in the world who can’t read.
Green tech breakthroughs at University of California, Irvine
See how a sophisticated technological back end is helping a simple home-grown bike-sharing program take abandoned cars and bikes off the road in California.
More mature image searches
Jian Sun, of Microsoft Research Asia, has developed a way to easily train computers in picture classification by allowing users to click on “nearly right” images and ask to see similar pictures, repeating the process until the perfect image appears. As a person uses the setup, more and more relevant sets of images get returned on future searches.
Kids of Silicon Valley
It’s always a hot young upstart teaching those slightly older how it’s done. In this case, its one of the many kids (literally) whose parents work in Silicon Valley teaching their elders: In this case, in the form of a Facebook app that lets users share recollections of their (current or just past ) high school years. The innovator: Cyrus Pishevar, of Palo Alto, isn’t even old enough to go to high school…He’s 13.
Keeping lazy bloggers blogging
The dirty little secret of the blogosphere is that less than 10 per cent of all blogs feature posts less than four months old. Within a few minutes of signing up with Tumblr – a dead-simple blogging tool created by David Karp – users can submit their first post via their browser of choice, e-mail, IM, or even voice.
The future of anatomical models at Darton College
This Georgia institution is using motion capture technology to develop detailed virtual anatomical models and study the kinesthetics of dance.
Charting spam by charting its flow
Georgia Tech assistant professor Nick Feamster looks at how messages move through networks (instead of just looking at the content), theorizing that the traffic flow of legitimate messages and spam should be different.