An Indian-origin scientist has bagged the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Prize worth USD 500,000 for his groundbreaking inventions to create solutions to improve lives globally.
Raskar develops innovative imaging technologies, including an imaging system to read through closed books. Microsoft, Samsung, Adobe, Canon and Qualcomm are some of the companies that cite patents by Raskar.
The award is given to mid-career inventors. Raskar was the recipient of the 2016 Lemelson-MIT Prize because of the groundbreaking practical solutions in imaging technologies, as well as mentoring students into launching their own successful careers.
Stephanie Couch, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program said, "Raskar is a multi-faceted leader as an inventor, educator, change maker and exemplar connector. In addition to creating his own remarkable inventions, he is working to connect communities and inventors all over the world to create positive change.”
Raskar is best known for his invention of femtophotography, a solution that allows capturing images around corners. The technology is a one trillion frames per second camera. The camera tracks movements of photons through the air with slow motion videos. This technology has received funding for further research from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US National Science Foundation and MIT itself.
A commercial version of the technology is being developed. This can potentially be used by by cars to avoid collisions, by rescue workers in emergency situations, or for medical imaging solutions that are an alternative to Xrays.
Nasik-born Ramesh Raskar, 46, is founder of the Camera Culture research group at the MIT Media Lab and an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences.
"Raskar is the winner of the 2016 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for his groundbreaking inventions, commitment to youth mentorship, and dedication to improving our world with practical yet innovative solutions,” a media release said.
With more than 75 patents to his name, and having written more than 120 reviewed publications, Raskar is the co-inventor of radical imaging solutions including Femto-photography, an ultra-fast imaging system that can see around corners; low-cost eye care solutions for the developing world; and a camera that allows users to read pages of a book without opening the cover.
Seeking to catalyze change on a massive scale by launching platforms that empower inventors to create solutions to improve lives globally, he combines the best of the academic and entrepreneurial worlds to achieve milestones in improving the lives and health of people in industrial and developing societies, the announcement said.
Raskar told MIT News that he plans to use a portion of the prize money to launch a new effort using peer-to-peer invention platforms that offer new approaches for helping young people in multiple countries to co-invent in a collaborative way.
"Everyone has the power to solve problems and through peer-to-peer co-invention and purposeful collaboration, we can solve problems that will impact billions of lives," he said.
Raskar said he was always fascinated with the idea of using super-human abilities to visually interact with the world via cameras that can see the unseen and displays that can alter the sense of reality.
The Lemelson-MIT prize, given by the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), honours U.S. inventors working on science and technology to improve the world.
Another Indian Dinesh Bharadia, a researcher who grew up in Kolhapur, has bagged the Paul Baran Young Scholar Award of the Marconi Society .
Dinesh Bharadia, 28, a doctorate from Stanford University and an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, has been awarded for his contribution to radio waves. "Bharadia has been chosen for the 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholar Award for his contribution to send and receive radio (wireless) signals, including mobile telephony and data on the same channel (wave)," Marconi Society said in a statement.
"Bharadia's research disproved a long-held assumption that it is not possible for a radio to recei ve and transmit on the same frequency band because of the resulting interference," the statement said. The Marconi young scholar award includes $4,000 (Rs.2,67,870) prize and expenses to attend its annual awards event.
He will receive the award at a ceremony in Mountain View, California, on November 2. Bharadia's technology can be used in India to build relays which can listen to signals from a cellular tower, transmit them instantly and extend the range across the country.