Alex Kipman ’01 – 2015 RIT Innovation Hall of Fame
Alex Kipman: I’d like to present Mr. Golisano with something very special. This is our first sweatshirt carrying the name of our brand new college. Michael Lutz: We created the software engineering program in the mid-nineties. Alex was in the first class of 15 brave souls who decided to switch out of another computing program into this new thing called software engineering. Obviously Alex was one of the smartest students in his class, there’s no doubt about that. But it was something else, something intangible about him, his personality, his drive, his breadth of interest that really made him stand out in the crowd. I knew he was going to go far. I didn’t know where he was going to go far, but I saw from the very beginning that he was going to be an outstanding graduate and representative of our program. Andrew Sears: I think the thing that really makes Alex stand out is his ability to see things that don’t exist yet, to look at existing technologies and envision ways you can really push them forward and do new things and combine them in ways that hasn’t been done before and that’s what he’s done, which has led to things like the Kinect and the HoloLens. I think the thing that’s most exciting about the Kinect is the way that they were able to combine a number of different technologies to allow people to interact with computing devices without having to actually hold some physical object. And then be able to do this in the context of a relatively complicated environment such as your living room is really what made that technology special. But I think what is more exciting is that when people see these technologies, others envision new things. They’re using it to provide doctors with access to medical images in the OR, they’re using it to support the physical rehab process during physical therapy. I am confident that Alex sees these other potential applications and he’s leveraging that initial application of gaming as a way of going after the technology and developing it and getting it mature knowing that once it’s there, there are no limits to what it can be used for. Laurence Sugarman: Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neuro-developmental disorder in which young people have impairments in social communication and cognitive and behavioral flexibility. They struggle with both of those things. So it’s very hard for young people with autism to turn that inside out. The value of the Kinect platform and this type of representational technology is that it allows us to create a flexible, customizable, therapeutic reflective surface. Technology like this becomes this wonderful way for helping people see their insides, see their emotions, see their movement, reflect on them and change them. That’s what happens whenever you’re in front of a mirror. We can put much more in this mirror. Having the kids learn a way to connect and to explain how they’re feeling, to be able to show that, is very important. So this can give them a sense of effectiveness and allow them to come out of their shell a bit and parents begin to say, I haven’t seen him do this before! I haven’t seen her come out of the script so much before! I haven’t seen that person be this creative before! That’s pretty exciting. Robert Biernbaum: Technology in medicine has risen at an extreme rate and it’s really launched us into the appropriate century where medicine had been lagging behind other industries. So in the past you have a digital screen on the wall that’s static that the physician’s relying on someone else to say, manipulate an artery or make it larger. With this technology, they don’t have to take the gloves off, break their sterile field, they can actually manipulate the image and using motions to change the contrast, using motions to make it three-dimensional on a two-dimensional screen. I was thinking as an emergency medicine physician what this would do in a trauma case. To be able to quickly speak to a surgeon and say, hey listen, we’re in the trauma, I know the patient is bleeding from the abdomen, I just got the CT scan, I can see the blood but I was able to manipulate the image, wipe out the rest and I can see the laceration on the spleen, and not only can I see it, I can see its depth. That is life saving. Kipman: I’m incredibly excited to introduce to you… Microsoft HoloLens. Holographic computing is here! Biernbaum: When I was first shown the example of the HoloLens… the ability to wear a device that allowed me to interact with my environment, that allowed me to truly have three dimensions in my visual field, as a physician just was mind blowing. If you can imagine… Here’s the fracture of the radius, let me make that bigger for you. Now you see it right there? Excellent. I’m going to turn this so you can see how that fracture went into that growth plate and what we’re going to need to do about it. That technology would advance medicine at a pace faster than any technology that I’ve seen. Josh Owen: We live in a day and age which is unprecedented in history in that the technological revolution has given us the ability to close the gap between our ability to dream and our power to do. Alex’s technology is so spectacularly applicable to what we do as designers. Designers are adapters by nature. New technologies become part of the water we drink. I think that one of the biggest challenges behaving in design space is to communicate with others what your intentions are and there’s plenty of room for miscommunication in two-dimensional space. As you begin to move into three-dimensional space, those ideas are much easier to grasp and so I think that this visualization technique will become rapidly included in the language of design and I think it will aid in the process in a seamless way. Designers are always dreaming about next steps and I think this fits neatly into the trajectory of what designers need to do to move ideas forward. Biernbaum: We always have the “but what if it could do this?” question in our mind, and we always think that technology isn’t there. The ability to unleash the “what if?” ideas that sit in the back of your mind… to me that’s innovation. Sugarman: To me, innovation is about the paradigm shift. Shifting the frame in which it’s done. Everybody knows that kids with autism relate to technology better than people. Why don’t we let those two come together. Sears: Sometimes it’s as simple as being able to take the existing technologies and apply them in new ways and sometimes it is just coming up with an idea that is kind of crazy and out of the box that nobody’s really thought about before. Lutz: Seeing the technology where it sits, seeing where it’s going and being able to grab on that by the handle and pull and make the future, if you will, as the technology is changing under your feet. This is just one of the most gratifying things that I can think of. That a student that at one time I had the privilege and the honor to teach has succeeded so well so quickly in his career, I can only wait to see what happens in the next few years.