The second annual IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Honors Ceremony took place on 11 May 2018 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, USA. The action-packed event brought together dozens of leading innovators, visionaries, and disruptors in technology to discuss, explore, and uncover what is imminent and what is possible—and what emerging technologies mean for our future. The Summit included fireside chats, interactive panels, and live demos and culminated with festivities that included the celebration of the contributions of the greatest minds of our time who have made a lasting impact on society for the benefit of humanity. The event kicked off with opening remarks from the 2018 IEEE President, Jim Jefferies, and the program was led by its Master of Ceremonies, Brent Lunceford.

A gathering of this magnitude, along with an excellent program, made the Summit successful.  Its lineup of esteemed speakers and moderators provided the audience with plenty to discuss, starting with the keynote address by Todd Richmond, Director, Mixed Reality Lab/Studio, USC on the topic “New Immersive Mediums—The Search for Egg Yolk.” In his address, Todd shared various insights through the description of three new mediums (currently in use) in the 21st century: Internet, smartphones, and AR/VR. He noted the fourth as “AI and machine learning,” which he stated will be a new communication medium. Another fascinating outlook shared by Richmond was about the emerging disruptive technologies tied to AR/VR/MR and their applications. In his closing remarks, Richmond noted that fake news is going to become even more of an issue with the convergence of artificial intelligence and VR technologies. He concluded with advice about how NOT to innovate: avoiding risk, fear, and failure. Instead, seek comfort in focusing on an outcome. Always try to be creative and innovation will come.

Mark Meyer, from Pixar Research Group, spoke about “Geometry Processing & Animated Film” and took the audience back to physics class with explanations on how it is applied in movies. He described how physical simulation at Pixar brought Princess Merida’s character to life in the Pixar movie Brave, for example. The audience was speechless upon seeing how each character comes into existence based on the technology used for deep learning rendering. Another mind-blowing segment was the panel on “The New Gene Therapy: CRISPR-Cas9 and the Future of Medicine,” moderated by the IEEE Spectrum Executive Editor Glenn Zorpette, with panelists John Tisdale, NIH, and Bruce Conklin, UCSF. The conversation on genome editing sparked an interesting discussion, especially about finding the cure for diseases.

Following the The New Gene Therapy session came the star-studded panel discussion “Robots on the Rise: The Future of Robotics and AI,” moderated by Stanford University Professor, Oussama Khatib, with panelists Cynthia Breazeal, Associate Prof. at MIT & Founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.; Eric Krotkov, COO at TRI; Marc Raibert, Founder and CEO of Boston Dynamics; and Grant Imahara, Consulting Mechanical Designer, Disney Research and Host, Discovery Channel’s MythBusters. During the discussion, Raibert explained that Boston Dynamics is working on making robots using mostly 3D printed parts or having 3D printing in mind. He then introduced SpotMini, who took a stroll through the audience. Breazeal explained that Social robotics was a new type of platform that could bring all this content to life and encourage humanistic engagement. Click here to read more coverage.  

The final panel for the Summit focused on “Social Impact, and the Role of Engineers in Today’s Society,” moderated by Matthew Fiedler, re:3D, with panelists Ryan Cousins, CEO, krtkl, inc.; Kevin Noertker, Co-Founder and CEO, Ampaire; and Veronica Osinski, Founder and Managing Partner, Trifecta Capital. The key takeaway from this panel was that our world would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for the work of all engineers across the globe.

The IEEE VIC Summit came to a close with the prestigious Honors Ceremony where 25 recipients were honored, including Life Fellow Bradford W. Parkinson, who received IEEE’s highest recognition, the Medal of Honor, for his role in leading the development and advancement of GPS.

Written by IEEE on June 1, 2018