8/19/2002 - Dr. Michael Hawley, cofounder of the "Things That Think" research program at MIT, concluded three days of informative discussions at National Instruments NIWeek 2002, the world's leading conference on virtual instrumentation, with an informative keynote on the potential impact of technology. In his keynote, Hawley asked an audience of nearly 1,500 engineers and scientists to look beyond the immediate impact digital technologies have on their daily work and see how highly advanced sensors, communication networks, and PC processors can play a larger role in education, health care, and ecology.
"I think a lot about the digital technologies that we all build," Hawley said. "What we have accomplished so far with these technologies is just a small portion of the larger possibilities that exist if we take a much larger world view of our work."
To illustrate this point, Hawley said although the United States spends $1.4 trillion on healthcare, people living in America know more about their cars than themselves. "It's embarrassing how little we know about ourselves because no one has taken an analytical, LabVIEW-look at the human body."
He explained how sensors weaved into clothing or inside the soles of shoes can one day monitor emotions as well as heart rates. Environmental sensors monitor changes in climate and other atmospheric conditions and the effects of those changes on ecosystems. Hawley then described how new-generations of sensors and computer networks can fully integrate technology in daily life.
Hawley received undergraduate degrees in music and computer science from Yale University and did his doctoral work at MIT. He did pioneering work in digital cinema at Lucasfilm. He also was a principal engineer at Next. Hawley was honored with the first Jack Kilby prize for innovation in science in 1990 and named as one of the 1,000 most creative individuals in America in 2001. At the MIT Media Lab, he held the Alex Dreyfoos professorship and is now MIT's director of special projects, building a new program of expeditionary research.
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National Instruments leverages commercial technologies, such as industry-standard computers and the Internet, to deliver customer-defined measurement and automation solutions. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 2,900 employees and direct sales offices in more than 37 countries. NI increases the productivity of engineers and scientists worldwide by delivering easy-to-integrate software and modular hardware. In 2001, the company sold products to more than 24,000 different companies in more than 60 countries around the world. For the past three consecutive years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
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