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 user 2009-09-09 at 11:04:29 am Views: 29
  • #22480

    the past, the 500 researchers at the famed HP Labs – creator of the
    first scientific pocket calculator, among other things – were spread
    over 150 projects at any given time, with little expectation of
    immediate hits.But since a new regime took over the distinguished
    research facility two years ago, HP Labs has reorganized into 21 labs
    pursuing eight big themes, from cloud services to sustainability and
    immersive interaction.The result: Researchers have been called to
    collaborate more with each other, their business unit counterparts and
    outside scientists, and find a way to speed the transfer of their
    research into new products and services.An example of this new approach
    is the CeNSE project, a sprawling vision for a worldwide system of
    sensors that can monitor a multitude of conditions such as traffic, air
    quality, light, temperature and vibrations.The project will take a few
    more years to come to fruition. But for now, it represents the changes
    that have taken place under HP Labs Director Prith Banerjee.Banerjee
    arrived at Hewlett-Packard to take the helm of HP Labs and turn it into
    a modern research facility that can continue to fuel focused innovation
    and drive bigger business for its $118 billion company.The result was a
    major reorganization in March last year that marked a departure from
    some of the original goals instilled by company founders Bill Hewlett
    and Dave Packard, who envisioned a broadly focused research arm
    unencumbered by daily business concerns.In the case of CeNSE,
    researchers from various business units and HP Labs teams have
    converged to build a comprehensive system that incorporates millions of
    sensors with robust computing and analytical power.

    The project
    taps a wide array of researchers, who work on everything from hardware
    and software to services and networking. Even the people responsible
    for ink-jet printer cartridges have been called in to help conceive of
    enclosures for the tiny thumbnail-sized sensors.
    New modelIt’s the
    kind of synergistic effort that HP Labs wasn’t always known for but is
    becoming common under Banerjee.”The reorganization focused our thinking
    on how we can come up with a bigger impact on the company,” said Peter
    Hartwell, a master scientist working on the CeNSE project. “Sensors by
    themselves are a small bet. But put it all together and this is a big

    The moves were necessary to ensure that HP continues to
    grow and find new business opportunities that can affect the bottom
    line, said Banerjee. With the pace of technology increasing, the
    company can’t afford to wait for what he called “random acts of
    discovery.”His challenge to the troops: Advance the state of the art
    while building the next billion-dollar opportunity for HP.”It’s been a
    tremendous effort, but the results are showing,” Banerjee said. “Given
    the conditions we’re working under, I think this is absolutely the
    right approach we’re taking.”Working togetherAcross the organization,
    conversations between disciplines have blossomed as researchers have
    looked for ways in which they can help each other address HP Labs’
    shorter list of priorities.

    Data center designers have talked
    with researchers in photonics in an effort to design more efficient and
    powerful computing facilities that transmit information via light.”The
    big change has been instead of talking in an isolated context, now
    we’re taking different things and seeing what can happen when we put
    them together,” said Parthasarathy Ranganathan, a distinguished
    technologist and data center designer.In other cases, the orders from
    the top have forced researchers to work together. For instance, the
    labs corralled a bunch of cloud computing projects into a more focused
    effort aimed at helping corporate customers make the leap into the

    The transition comes with trade-offs, said Carl Taussig,
    director of the information surfaces lab, who is working on flexible
    display technology. There’s less emphasis on the long-term projects and
    more of a push to get technology into products quicker, he said.But as
    HP has grown into a company 10 times the size it was when Hewlett and
    Packard left, there’s more of a need to find projects that leave a
    bigger impact, he said.
    Discretionary projects

    Banerjee said
    that despite the shift in focus, the labs are still in the business of
    finding happy accidents. He said 20 percent of the researchers in
    various labs are allowed to work on discretionary projects while all
    researchers can use 20 percent of their time on creative
    activities.Banerjee said it will be this speculative work that will
    help determine what next year’s big bets are when the company does its
    annual review of projects. And that, he believes, will keep the wheels
    of innovation turning at HP.”I’m incredibly excited about the future of
    HP Labs,” he said. “We’ve completed our transformation and our
    researchers are all on board.”
    HP Labs innovations

    HP Labs develops the first commercially available light-emitting diode (LED).


    The HP-35 becomes the first scientific pocket calculator.

    HP launches its first ink-jet printer, which is based on thermal ink-jet technology developed at the labs in the 1970s.

    on work that began in the labs in 1981, researchers team with Intel to
    develop what eventually becomes Intel’s next-generation Itanium
    architecture, introduced in 2001. It advances computing from 32 to 64

    Researchers create the technology for the first rewritable DVD system (DVD+RW) compatible with standard DVD players.

    solve a decades-old mystery by proving the existence of a fourth basic
    element (named the memristor) in integrated circuits that could make it
    possible to develop far more energy-efficient computing systems with
    memories that retain information even after the power is off, so there
    is no wait for the system to boot up after turning the computer on.