Holograms and Hormones
Even when she's not fresh from a rejuvenating medical procedure, Jepsen is simultaneously placid and upbeat, particularly for a woman on the verge of breaking into a multibillion-dollar industry. She meets the constant demands for her time matter-of-factly, without any apparent stress, and for someone who spends so much of her time in front of conference crowds, she's surprisingly un-self-conscious. She once filmed a series of Web videos on her work while wearing a pirate-like eye patch to cover a parasitic infection. And today she seems perfectly comfortable being interviewed in her hospital gown.
Her parents struggled financially—her father repaired car engines until his business burned down, and then ran for political office and lost—so they pushed the teenage Jepsen in a pragmatic direction. "I didn't want to be an electrical engineer," she says. "But I did want to go to college. And they said they'd help me pay for it if I'd major in electrical engineering."
During her freshman year at Brown University, she figured out a way to meld science and art: In a physics class, she learned how to create holograms. "You make this emulsion, spread it on glass, and at the end of this whole complicated process, you have this magical 3-D thing," she says. "I was hooked."
She decided to spend her life making holograms. She went on to earn a master's at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, where she helped develop a groundbreaking 3-D video system (which, incidentally, earned a mention in this magazine in 1991). Then she took her artistic engineering around the world. Sometimes she put it to practical ends, as when she helped the Australian government fix the security hologram on their dollar bill. Other times, it was purely art, as when she splashed a 66-foot hologram of Roman baths across an entire city block in Cologne, Germany. In the '90s, she even came up with the idea of using solar-mirror arrays in California to project a movie onto the moon (a plan she later shelved after deciding that it would be culturally disastrous to deface something revered by many religions).
While in Germany in her mid-20s, she began to suffer mysterious health problems: scrapes that didn't heal, kidney ailments usually contracted only by AIDS patients. As a freelance art-holographer, she lacked health insurance, so she felt she had to switch to steadier work. She went back to Brown to get a Ph.D. in optics, thinking an advanced degree might help her compete in the male-dominated electronics industry. Partway through her studies, though, she found herself nearly incapacitated. "I was going blind, and I was in a wheelchair," she says. "I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life living with my parents." Finally, doctors unearthed a hormone-wrecking mass on her pituitary gland—this after years of telling her that her illness was all in her head. "In fact, it was," she says. "They sucked it out of my nose."
Removing part of her pituitary gave Jepsen back her health. It also gave her a strict lifelong course of pills, needed to replace the lost gland's hormones, and a strong sense of urgency. "If I don't take my pills every 12 hours, I can die," she says. "So how do I want to use my time?"
Fantastic. Looks good too. How does it stand up to Apple's new 10" iPhone reader coming out in two months for $1,000.00?
Sounds awesome! although that full-color contender might be problematic in a few years.
I love the long articles with interviews and technical descriptions. Keep them coming
The screen is a technology marvel, but I don't buy into the tricorder concept (one device that does everything).
I'm of the opinion that ereaders will become amazingly cheap. So, why would I want an expensive universal device? I might risk a 20-50 buck reader at a beach or on a picnic, but not a $500+gadget that had a lot of my personal data.
Not to mention conflicts in operation. If I get a phone call while reading a book/ebook, I just put it down and answer the phone -- no pause mumbo jumbo. By the same token, if I'm downloading yet another Windows update or some other huge file, I can still talk on the phone and/or read a book/ebook.
I think that there is a strong market for the tri-corder device.
The only advantages a smart phone has is portability. With a Blue Tooth, the netbook sized laptop in my briefcase or backpack has all the connectivity I need to answer calls (or read an audio book to me while I ignore another conference meeting).
Laptops only weakness is size and battery life. (1) Improve the screen and you extend battery life. (2) With a two screen set-up using a touch screen keypad and you get something thin enough to be reasonably portable.
E-reader's only advantage is battery life. If I can use my laptop as an eReader with extended life, why wouldn't I want one? If it can let me surf the internet, call my wife, read a book, watch TV, take notes, draw a picture, and read my a story, it would be well worth the price - - - the price, of course, of carrying it around in a man-purse.
now THIS is the future of ereading !
I plan to buy as many of these as I can get my hands on, and distribute them to my relatives. The computer industry is not listening to the customers, but Mary Lou Jepson is.
Islam and Sharia Law are taking over the lands in modern Europe as you read this. Make the stand today and educate yourself on this dire matter!
LOL!!!! "The price of carrying it around in a man purse."
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Ah come on man its just a purse!!!! Are you homophobic? Come on man being with another man aint so bad. I mean I've experimented and it aint so bad. Just bite the pillow when it starts to hurt.
"If it can let me surf the internet, call my wife, read a book, watch TV, take notes, draw a picture, and read my a story, it would be well worth the price - - - the price, of course, of carrying it around in a man-purse."
I would say that that's true if you're dainty.
Men like me don't need a "murse" and we don't need a fanny pack either.
I want one of these devices to be durable and hands on. I want to be able to toss it onto the car seat and stare at it while I'm sitting on the toilet and I want to be able to kill a bug with it when I'm out on the Parcourse, doing elevated pushups. I move about in the leaves and the grass. I live near a large forest preserve, and I want a tough, waterproof, scratch-resistant and dependable device that will let me sit down and look at something brilliant that I've written. I don't need a PC. I need a reader. Big difference.
I also want a reader that can take a beating. I wonder if it would be possible to design the outer shell like the rugby cell phone? they can stand up to the test. So why cant the apply that to all the new technology comming out into the world? However, they would still need to slim down the shell though. thoes phones are extremely thick.
Mary Lou Jepson is an amazing woman with an amazing story and OLPC was and is an amazingly altruistic concept worthy of the support of us all. Pixel Qi, however, I don't really get. Where are the big time product announcements to support the pub? I know they had some demos at CES and will likely at 3GSM, but outside of engaging discussions with Jepson, what's there? This isn't like OLED where they are engineering a completely new tech. My big question is why would venture folks put all kinds of money behind a lowest-common-denominator tech like pixel qi (power sucking inside, no color or video outside) instead of something like liquavista or mirasol. liquavista's a ways off, but mirasol seems like an amazing display technology equally as imminent as Jepson's Pixel Qi. www.mirasoldisplay.com
They should make the back a solar panel, for charging in places that don't have easy access to electricity, like rural Africa. A camera would be nice too, it would make for an interesting photo taking experience, because it would be like looking through a window, and saving the scene.
Don't let this woman fool you. She cares nothing for kids ... only money. The author might check with her step children. They are now adults but were barely teens when she began pursuing their married dad. There's not an altruistic bone in her body. She may be bright as an engineer but since this piece is largely personal it must be said she is a very self serving woman.
that's good news
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Digital papers are becoming more appealing as we become comfortable with our new approach to communication and publication. I am interested in this machine for my daily news, yet twelve months ago I personally would have rejected the whole concept of holding a machine to read my news articles. I have arrived fully into the techno age.