May 2nd, 2013
By Deborah Drago-Leaf, manager, Education Support, Xerox
Teaching grade school children today is just as much about reviewing a lesson as it is developing the skills students need in order to learn. To do this, we need to be masters at reaching kids individually and discovering misperceptions or missing skills that, when addressed, help deepen the student’s learning. Think that’s easy? It’s not! We assign, we observe, we discuss, we question, we grade, we sort – this takes a ton of time!
As a teacher for six years, I know many of us often put in 12-hour days to “get it all done.” A colleague recently told me she used to work Sunday nights to get plans and materials prepared for the upcoming week, but with this year’s adoption of Common Core State Standards, she now works all day on Sundays to complete that challenge.
I’ve kept this friend in mind while working with scientists at Xerox Research Center Webster to develop the Xerox Ignite™ Educator Support System, a one-of-a-kind solution that makes it faster for teachers to evaluate how students are doing, even taking into account their handwritten work.
When I first introduce the capabilities of Ignite to teachers, their eyes grow wide because it seems too good to be true. And it is. Using the power of data analytics, Ignite simplifies the steps a teacher must take to assess how a child is learning, ultimately saving valuable time that can be put back into what is truly important – teaching our children. This video shows a bit more about how it all works:
Kids can be funny little enigmas. One minute they’re eager to offer up any number of truths; openly explaining how Dad mows the lawn in his underpants, for example. And then the next thing you know they turn into masterful secret keepers, insisting they “get it” when their teacher wants to know if they’ve understood the lesson. As an educator, I think Ignite is our next secret weapon!
Deborah Drago-Leaf has been an elementary teacher for six years, and is currently a member of the Ignite research team. Outside the lab, she teachers yoga and is a long-distance runner – all year round which is quite an accomplishment in Rochester, New York. Married to a fellow teacher, they are raising two teenagers and a new puppy.
April 3rd, 2013
As marketing and technology converge, the conversation has intensified over the interaction between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer. Gartner predicted CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs by 2017. IDC, during their annual conference Directions2013, compared the CMO and CIO as either friends or frenemies.
But what surprises me is how little discussion is underway on the role the CMO and the Chief Innovation Officer could play together.
More than thirty years ago, didn’t Peter Drucker say that “the purpose of a company is to create a customer. Therefore the business has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results: all the rest are costs?”
To me, the collaboration sounds obvious. That’s why as a marketing executive, I’ve partnered with the CIO of my business unit to improve the experience of our clients.
Here are three reasons why I think partnering with my Chief Innovation Officer makes sense:
- In the era of the self educated buyer, our clients are looking for ideas, insights on how they could solve their toughest transportation problems. I don’t pretend marketing has the knowledge to create relevant and helpful content, but our researchers that work in the field with our clients every day do. Naturally, we’ve launched an Innovator’s Brief for the Transportation Industry, a quarterly informative newsletter where our CIO shares his thoughts about the different projects coming from our global R&D centers.
- Innovation at Xerox is part of our DNA and Marketing is in the forefront to reposition our Brand. We’ve found it would be unexpected, but relevant to show the new Xerox through the lens of our researchers. Take parking for example, we have ethnographers that study human behavior and watch drivers circling for spaces, searching for coins and hoping they won’t get a ticket. Their objective: to improve the driver’s experience and take the pain out of parking.Watch this TEDx video from one of PARC’s leading ethnographers to learn more.
- By working closely with our group CIO and his researchers on our marketing programs, we learn to take chances and experiment. We’re not afraid to fail, we persevere: they show us the way to challenge the status quo.
Today, technology is changing the way we interact with our clients and marketing is transforming fast. By collaborating with Innovation, finding better ways to market your ideas will be simpler.
April 1st, 2013
By Survi Kyal, research engineer, Xerox Research Center Webster
Having just joined Xerox Research Center Webster as a researcher last September, I was excited to attend my first media event at our Palo Alto Research Center. It was a great opportunity to showcase what we are doing and meet fellow Xerox researchers.
I was curious what the journalists would think and to be honest, a bit nervous too. Little did I realize how quickly my nervousness would evaporate. The presentations were great, but the conversations were even better. I loved seeing the look of surprise when our guests learned that we were doing research for transportation, healthcare and education.
Journalists that I talked to were so excited about what we were doing that many wrote about the project I am working on – a unique method that uses the popular Kinect game sensor to measure how well a patient is breathing. Even more exciting was reading the many articles that appeared about the project including The Economist, VentureBeat, medGadget and San Jose Mercury News.
You can see a nice review of many of the projects in this eWeek slide show. I heard many folks express how surprised and “wowed” they were with our work. For example, one journalist questioned if what we described really worked, while another was totally surprised that we were doing anything in healthcare at all because they still thought of us as a document/printer company.
Obviously the day provided a fresh perspective on what is happening inside our labs for our guests, but one benefit that I didn’t expect was that I returned to my lab totally energized. I hope we continue to do events like this as it’s important to help folks understand what we really are working on. Actually having said that – maybe it would be a good idea to invite my mom next time. Maybe she would finally “get” what it is I do at Xerox.
Survi not only enjoys “cooking” up new ways to apply her signal processing and imaging expertise in the lab, but she also loves cooking up a good Indian curry in her kitchen.
March 20th, 2013
By Mark Costello, vice president, General Patent Counsel, Xerox
These days when a Xerox patent attorney is asked “What’s new?” we tend to answer “Everything on my docket!” Welcome to today’s Xerox, where R&D has been let loose into the world of services.
Innovation is a big part of our corporate history starting with the patent for xerography by our founder Chester Carlson – who was a patent attorney himself. What we’re seeing now is an increased pace of idea generation. In fact, Xerox increased its patent issuances by 17 percent last year, the fourth year in a row that they’ve increased.
How have we done it? Some ideas:
- Innovation is so ingrained in our culture that it’s not enough to simply invent and have a cool idea – you have to do something with it. Great ideas in the abstract add no value to the company. New ideas and fresh thinking form the basis for our research.
- Common sense approach:
- Clear goals among engineers and researchers for invention productivity
- Applying talent and technical expertise to new industries
- Patenting technology, and making sure it’s picked up by our businesses
- The U.S. Patent Office has handled our “backlog” of patent applications quickly and efficiently. In fact, the total number of patent issuances is up across the nation – a sign that the government recognizes the value patents bring to business and the economy in general.
As our researchers step into the realms of transportation, healthcare, big data analytics and more – things are getting pretty exciting around here, and we like to imagine how our ideas might change the world. Picture nurses and doctors monitoring the vital signs of babies in a neonatal unit without having to attach any probes to their delicate skin. Imagine healthcare information exchanges handling electronic health records in ways you’d never think possible or a mobile app that helps frustrated drivers find a parking spot quickly. Our researchers are working on data analytics tools that help cities streamline traffic and public transportation schedules, making commutes safer and less time consuming.
Innovation is not just a bunch of cool ideas at Xerox. It’s a powerful tool for our customers, and a way for us to make a real difference in the world.
Mark loves technology and working with scientists. An avid technology buff, he pursued an education in electrical engineering, and then focused on technology issues after law school. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, and travel.
March 18th, 2013
By Suzette Norris, freelance writer and PR consultant, Prospero Communications
For those of you (like me) whose closest encounter with a motion-control video game is a one-time, unattractive engagement with a game called Just Dance 4, it may be hard to imagine how this stuff (think Call of Duty or Halo 4) adds much value to day-to-day life.
But others, like Lalit K. (LK) Mestha and Edgar Bernal – both researchers at the Xerox Research Center Webster in New York– see it differently. They’re working on a research project that uses Microsoft’s Kinect game sensor to measure how well a person is breathing. Kinect matches the movements of a player’s body to an avatar in a video game. It’s a long skinny box with a little camera eye that connects to an Xbox console. Because it can detect three dimensional shapes in a room, Edgar and LK figured it could be used as an inexpensive way for doctors to monitor important vital information.
The Kinect work is part of a larger project at Xerox exploring how a patient’s vital signs can be monitored with light (detected by a camera). Using cameras to continuously monitor vital signs (instead of using wires to connect a person to a machine) has vast implications for healthcare. It’s still very early research, but one could imagine how doctors one day could use remote, non-contact sensing to stay in touch with patients after they are discharged from the hospital – just to make sure the medication is working, for example, or that no unseen complications arise.
So note to all video game skeptics who worry that the technology has taken over our lives without giving enough back in return: take some comfort in the work LK and Edgar are doing – perhaps they can turn the equation around.
February 22nd, 2013
By Sophie Vandebroek, chief technology officer and president of the Xerox Innovation Group
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Engineering Week than by receiving the fantastic news that our CEO, Ursula Burns, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. With just 2,250 U.S. elected members since it was founded in 1964, the Academy is highly selective.
Ursula is cited for her “technical and business leadership of the renaissance of a global services and technology company.” It is so good to see the NAE recognize her passion to lead Xerox’s transformation leveraging our strong innovation culture.
The NAE elects people who made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education,” and who “pioneer new and developing fields of technology, or are making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering.” It is a great way to describe what we, Xerox engineers and researchers, do every day.
Let me give you a few examples:
We are mining hospital records to detect hospital-acquired infections early on, and to help hospitals run efficient and effective operations. We are applying mobile imaging to monitor vitals and diagnose diseases. We are helping companies anticipate consumer satisfaction and buying behavior. We are creating greener cities by mining traffic data and adjusting mass transit schedules or parking pricing to minimize unnecessary driving. We are enabling justice faster by preventing fraud and by enabling lawyers to mine huge amounts of documents in a touch less way.
We’re proud of our strong tradition of innovation and our on-going commitment to innovation.
Another interesting fact is that the NAE has inducted amazing Xerox women to its ranks before. Esther Conwell, a Fellow at our Xerox Research Center in Webster, NY from 1972-1998, and Lynn Conway, a Research Fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center from 1973-1983 were also awarded this distinction. We do have our share of Xerox male alumni elected to the Academy, including John Dessauer, an early leader of Xerox R&D and former CEO Paul Allaire, as well as a several prominent Xerox researchers.
Please join me in congratulating Ursula and in celebrating National Engineering Week.
While Sophie leads the Xerox research labs across the globe, she remains an engineer at heart. She has a passion for encouraging young people, especially girls and minorities, to pursue careers in science and engineering.
February 20th, 2013
By Karen Arena, vice president, Global Public Relations, Xerox
Editors at MIT Tech Review chose Xerox for creating disruptive innovations most likely to change our lives. For the issue, editor Brian Bergstein interviewed our CEO Ursula Burns about Xerox’s heritage and earnest efforts to help change the world through technology.
As I listened to Ursula explain Xerox’s effort to help workers better share information and how we’ve maintained that effort for more than 70 years, I had to wonder how we decide which innovations to pursue, and which to leave behind. Ursula points out that a lot of our work is driven by our desire to tackle complex problems for our clients and operationalizing our results through common themes. Beyond that, we are looking around corners and creating new paths.
Xerox researchers that were once obsessed with “marks on paper” are now applying that same technology to healthcare, using imaging technology and predictive analytics to make the administering and delivering of better health outcomes for premature babies. It’s heartwarming to know we’re disrupting the status quo in infant care.
I’m one of those people who drives in the city often, with my driving/parking strategies in place well before I set out. As a business services provider, you wouldn’t think of Xerox doing R&D to help me grapple with traffic congestion, including parking and highway issues, but yep, we’re there solving tough problems to help people drive, park and use public transit more efficiently.
And, you might not think of a call center as an innovation hub. We’re there too, applying technology to make the experience better for call center agents on the front lines of problem-solving, and making life a little less tedious for customers on the other end of the line.
Xerox’s impressive patent portfolio isn’t what drove MIT to select us, but as they so aptly highlight, it’s those disruptive technologies that are life-changing in simple, but important ways. Thanks MIT for recognizing Xerox in this realm.