IEEE Visualization '96


Keynote Session: Bringing Visualization to the User
Speaker: Alvy Ray Smith, Graphics Fellow, Microsoft Corporation

I see my job as making sound and pictures ordinary. People have been trying to do this for decades but have never succeeded. I will explain why the "digital convergence" has been so hard and why I think there is a real shot at it now. One reason has been insufficient computing horsepower, but the Moore's Law phenomenon has solved that or soon will. The better reason, I believe, is poor models and inappropriate metaphors. I will explain what this means. I will also attempt to calibrate the audience to what really is possible and when.

Alvy Ray Smith cofounded - or was present at the beginning of - four centers of computer graphics excellence before recently joining Microsoft as its first Graphics Fellow:

He was co-awarded the Computer Graphics Achievement Award by ACM SIGGRAPH in 1990 for "seminal contributions to computer paint systems." His product, Altamira Composer, introduced the concept of image objects (sprites) to the personal computer imaging world. Sprites are based on the alpha channel concept, which he coinvented and for which he shares a recent technical Academy Award. In 1994, Dr. Smith's company, Altamira, was acquired by Microsoft, where he is currently articulating Microsoft's vision for multimedia authoring and guiding the incorporation of Altamira Composer software technology and philosophy into Microsoft products. Recently, he was a Regent for four years for the National Library of Medicine, where he was instrumental in inaugurating the Visible Human Project. Dr. Smith holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University (dissertation: Cellular Automata Theory).