Kentaro Toyama

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Kentaro Toyama
Kentaro Toyama (cropped).jpg
Alma materYale University (PhD)
Harvard University (AB)
Scientific career
InstitutionsMicrosoft Research
University of Michigan
ThesisRobust vision-based object tracking (1998)
InfluencesAndrew Blake[2]

Kentaro Toyama is a computer scientist and international development researcher, who works on the relationship of technology and global development. He is W. K. Kellogg Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information[1][3] and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology.[4][5][6]

Toyama was founding assistant director of Microsoft Research India, a Bangalore-based computer science laboratory, where he established the Technology for Emerging Markets group which conducts interdisciplinary research in the field of "information and communication technologies for development" (ICT4D).[7][8][9] Together with AnnaLee Saxenian and Raj Reddy, he co-founded the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, a global platform for rigorous, academic, interdisciplinary research in ICT4D.[10]


Toyama received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Yale University, and an A.B. in Physics from Harvard University.[9]

Research and career[edit]

Toyama's research spans several disparate areas, including ICT4D, development studies, computer vision, human-computer interaction, geographic information systems, and multimedia.[7][8][11][11][12] He is best known for his research in ICT4D, which includes technology projects such as MultiPoint,[13][14] Text-Free User Interfaces,[7] Warana Unwired,[7] and Digital Green,[14] as well as observational studies of rural telecenters,[15][16] mobile phones in developing countries,[17] and the limits of technology for international development.[18]

He is an outspoken critic of the "technological utopianism" that he sees in initiatives such as One Laptop Per Child, and argues that technology only magnifies existing human intent and capacity.[11][18] A two-part essay making this point appears in a Boston Review forum.[19][20] The argument is expanded upon and extended further in Geek Heresy.[4]

Toyama's research in computer vision involves automated tracking of objects in video. In 2002, he taught calculus at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana.[21]

Awards and honors[edit]

A paper he co-authored with Andrew Blake was awarded the Marr Prize at the 2001 International Conference on Computer Vision.[2][22] That work was a precursor to some of the technology in Microsoft's Kinect product.[23]


  1. ^ a b Kentaro Toyama publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Toyama, Kentaro; Blake, Andrew (2002). "Probabilistic Tracking with Exemplars in a Metric Space". International Journal of Computer Vision. 48 (1): 9–19. doi:10.1023/A:1014899027014. ISSN 0920-5691.
  3. ^ McDonald, Amy. (2014) "How Google and Facebook are helping the underprivileged — or not". Deseret News National. Aug. 13, 2014
  4. ^ a b [[ISBN missing]
  5. ^ Toyama's ICT4D Jester blog on technology in international development
  6. ^ "The Myth of Scale" video on YouTube
  7. ^ a b c d Bahree, Megha. (2008) "Computing at the Bottom of the Pyramid". Forbes Magazine. Sept. 29, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Radjou, Navi. (2009) "Microsoft reinvents its global R&D model". Harvard Business Review Blogs. June 25, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Microsoft Research. (n.d.) "Kentaro Toyama". Retrieved Oct. 15, 2010.
  10. ^ Microsoft News Center. (2009) "Research & (Economic) Development". Apr. 17, 2009.
  11. ^ a b c Stross, Randall. (2010) "Two billion laptops? It may not be enough". The New York Times. Apr. 17, 2010.
  12. ^ O'Connell, Pamela Licalzi. (2003) "Online Diary: Location Shot". The New York Times. Oct. 23, 2003.
  13. ^ Roush, Wade. (2006) "Microsoft in India". Technology Review. June 1, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee. (2008) "Microsoft goes far afield to study emerging markets". The New York Times. Oct. 26, 2008.
  15. ^ Toyama, Kentaro and Ken Keniston. (2008) "Telecenter Debates". In Telecentre Magazine. March, 2008.
  16. ^ Kuriyan, R., Ray, I., and Toyama, K. (2008) "Information and Communication Technologies for Development: The Bottom of the Pyramid Model in Practice". The Information Society 24(2):93-104. Mar. 2008.
  17. ^ Smyth, T. N., Kumar, S., Medhi, I., and Toyama, K. (2010) "Where there's a will there's a way: mobile media sharing in urban india". In Proceedings of the 28th international Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '10. ACM, New York, NY, 753-762.
  18. ^ a b Toyama, Kentaro. (2010) "The Myth of Scale". TEDxTokyo. May 15, 2010.
  19. ^ Toyama, Kentaro. (2010) "Can Technology End Poverty". Boston Review, Nov/Dec 2010.
  20. ^ Toyama, Kentaro. (2010) "Response". Boston Review, Nov/Dec 2010.
  21. ^ Ashesi University. (n.d.) "Visiting Faculty". Retrieved Oct. 15, 2010.
  22. ^ IEEE Computer Society. (n.d.) "CVPR and ICCV Best Paper Awards". Retrieved Oct. 15, 2010.
  23. ^ Rowan, David. (2010) "Kinect for Xbox 360: The inside story of Microsoft's secret 'Project Natal'". Retrieved Dec. 15, 2014.

External links[edit]