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March 3: Carnegie Mellon Professor Takeo Kanade to Receive Franklin Institute's Prestigious Bower Award


Anne Watzman                       

Byron Spice

Carnegie Mellon Professor Takeo Kanade to Receive
Franklin Institute's Prestigious Bower Award

PITTSBURGH — Takeo Kanade, Carnegie Mellon University's U.A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics, is the 2008 recipient of the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the historic Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. He is being honored for his "visionary leadership and scientific accomplishments in the design of perceptual robotic algorithms and systems that function in the physical world."

KanadeThe Bower Award and Prize, which includes a gold medal and a cash prize of $250,000, is among the richest awards for scientific achievement in the world. It was established in 1988 with a bequest from Henry Bower, a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer who also endowed an award for business leadership.

The Bower Prize is the newest award at The Franklin Institute, which has honored the top men and women in science, technology and engineering for nearly two centuries. For the past 184 years, The Franklin Institute has recognized individuals whose great innovation has benefited humanity, advanced science, launched new fields of inquiry and deepened our understanding of the universe. The list of Franklin Institute laureates includes such 19th and 20th century luminaries as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

"Takeo Kanade is one of Carnegie Mellon's treasures," said university President Jared L. Cohon. "Starting with his early work on automated face recognition, his brilliant research in computer vision has been the foundation for an ever widening range of applications and new research directions, from the basic algorithms used in MEPG and other video technologies from which we benefit everyday, to enabling robots to see, and advances in medicine and robotic surgery as well as improving the productivity of industry. Now he is using his expertise to improve the quality of life of aging Americans and people with disabilities, which eventually could have an impact on all of us."

Kanade's list of achievements is long, diverse and unique. He spent 10 years as director of Carnegie Mellon's world-renowned Robotics Institute, and is currently director of the National Science Foundation Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, which was established in 2006. In addition, he is the founding director of the Digital Human Research Center in Tokyo, which aims to measure and model human functions for use in designing human-centered systems.

Kanade's research breakthroughs began while he was in college, when he developed the first complete system for face recognition by computers for his doctoral thesis. Since then, he has continued to explore the science of computer vision, including the physical, geometrical, optical and statistical process involved in vision, and translated them into mathematical models. He co-developed the world's first direct-drive robot arm, which is used by several robot manufacturers and is recognized as one of the most advanced robot arm technologies. He also has made significant strides in visual media technology, particularly through his work in what he calls "virtualized reality," which gives viewers a 360-degree view of a scene. Part of this technology, known as "EyeVision," was used by CBS-TV during the replays in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001.    

Kanade is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received multiple awards, including the C&C Award and Okawa Prize. He and 10 other medalists will be honored April 17 at a black-tie ceremony in the Rotunda of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in The Franklin Institute. It is the climactic event in a weeklong series of symposia, informal discussions and social events. On April 16, as part of the activity, Kanade will deliver a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Research in Cognitive Science. The title of his talk is "Research on Robotics and Computer Vision: Excitement and Fun."

Kanade is one of three people affiliated with Carnegie Mellon who have been honored by The Franklin Institute. The late Allen Newell, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist who helped found the fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, received the institute's Levy Award in 1992 "for development of languages and architecture to make computers intelligent." Stuart K. Card, who earned a doctor's degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon, received the Bower Prize in 2007 "for fundamental contributions to the field of human-computer interaction and information visualization."

For more about The Franklin Institute and its awards program, see: