UXBRIDGE -- Before Xerox's Steven J. Harrington had time to savour a milestone few inventors have ever reached, it was already in his rear-view mirror. Harrington, a scientist in the Xerox Innovation Group who received three patents within days of each other last month, is only the 14th Xerox scientist to be awarded 100 patents.
Harrington's 100th U.S. patent - No. 7,092,551 - is titled "System and method for measuring and quantising document quality." It is one of seven patents he filed for related to the fundamental understanding of what makes images and layout appealing, a subject that has occupied philosophers and artists for centuries.
Working with scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology's Centre for Electronic Imaging Systems, Harrington, a Xerox Fellow, discovered innovative ways to objectively judge what have been subjective issues until now, such as the properties that make documents look better or worse, easier or more difficult to understand, eye-catching or dull.
Harrington continues to invent. He has applied for a dozen more patents, including several innovations that result in smarter documents. Among them are methods for encoding invisible electronic information in a printed document, for Internet coupon fraud deterrence and for creating and using multi-versioned documents.
"Steve has the rare ability to find new ways of approaching challenges. His inventions have ranged from digital watermarking and inkjet printer technologies to highlight colour mapping and a method for correcting colour in a compressed image. His discoveries have enriched Xerox product and service offerings and have influenced the state of the art in imaging," said Sophie Vandebroek, Xerox's chief technology officer and president of the Xerox Innovation Group.
Fascinated by robots and Tinker Toys when he was a child in Portland, Ore., USA, Harrington, 58, is happiest when he is being challenged by new problems. "One of the reasons I find research at Xerox so satisfying is that I am constantly learning new stuff," he said. He is currently working in Xerox's Adaptive and Smart Document Systems Lab, where he is investigating what can happen when electronic devices "talk" to each other.
A scientist with wide-ranging interests, Harrington has also worked on symbolic computation, taught computer science, and developed page description languages and methods for highlight colour printing, image rendering, half toning, colour mapping and video image processing.
In his spare time, Harrington is just as creative. He can be found tearing out walls, installing plumbing and adding to his distinctive 1860's house in Webster, N.Y., USA. "I'm not afraid to try most things," he said. "What you need is a certain measure of inventiveness."
Harrington joined Xerox in 1981 after two years teaching at the State University of New York, Brockport. His teaching experience inspired him to write a textbook that's a classic in its field, Computer Graphics. A Programming Approach. He is also a co-author of Interpress: The Source Book describing the pioneering Xerox page-description language.
He received Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and mathematics from Oregon State University, then Master of Science degrees in physics and computer science and a doctorate in physics from the University of Washington. He spent two years in a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Utah.
Xerox Innovation At Work
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