Mary Lou Jepsen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mary Lou Jepsen
Mary Lou Jepsen in Lab.jpg
Jepsen in 2018
Born 1964/1965 (age 53–54)[1]
Nationality American
Alma mater Brown University
Occupation Technology Pioneer
Known for Co-founder, One Laptop Per Child

Mary Lou Jepsen (born 1965)[1][2] is a technical executive and inventor in the fields of display, imaging, and computer hardware. She is the founder of OpenWater,[3] a startup working on fMRI-type imaging of the body using holographic, infrared techniques.[4] In 2016, she joined the board of Lear Corporation, a Detroit-area maker of seats and electronics for cars.[5]

She was previously an executive at Facebook / Oculus VR.[6] Among her objectives at Facebook was leading a concerted effort to bring Virtual Reality to the next level. Previously she was Head of the Display Division at Google X where she led more than one "Moon Shot" program, reported to Sergey Brin, and advised and directed display and consumer electronic programs throughout Google. The Wall Street Journal reported that among her projects there she created Google Lego TV: displays composed of smaller screens that plug together like Legos to create vast, seamless images and "live walls" for wall size interaction, television, video conferencing and gaming, to virtual reality without having to wear anything on your face or body.[7]

Jepsen founded Pixel Qi in Taipei, Taiwan, focused on innovative opto-electronic architectures and the manufacturer thereof. She was the co-founder and first chief technology officer of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) a non-profit that generated more than $1B in revenue and helped create $30B in revenue for its for-profit partners.

In 2008 she was named to the Time 100, and In 2013 she was named to CNN's top 10 thinkers in science and technology, for her work in rethinking functional brain imaging.[1][8] She is also a member of the Xconomists, an ad hoc team of editorial advisors for the tech news and media company, Xconomy.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Jepsen studied Studio Art and Electrical Engineering at Brown University. She received a Master of Science in Holography from the MIT Media Lab, and then returned to Brown to receive a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences.[10] Her contributions have had worldwide adoption in head-mounted display, HDTV and projector products. Her PhD work combined rigorous theoretical coupled-wave analysis with lab work, in which she created large-scale, embossed surface-relief diffraction gratings with liquid crystal-filled grooves with high diffraction efficiency in un-polarized illumination.[11]

She has created some of the largest ambient displays ever. In Cologne, Germany she built a holographic replica of pre-existing buildings in the city's historic district...and created a holographic display encompassing a city block.[12] She co-created the first holographic video system in the world at the MIT Media Lab in 1989, where the interference structure of the hologram was computed at video rates, and shown on her hand-made display.[13] This system inspired a new subfield of holographic video and received numerous awards.[14]


From 2003 until the end of 2004, she was the chief technology officer of Intel’s Display Division.[15]

MIT Media Lab[edit]

In 2005 Jepsen joined the faculty of the MIT Media Lab as a professor with a tenure-track position. Here she started the Nomadic Displays Group. She simultaneously co-founded One Laptop per Child. Then, hooked on the impact that OLPC was having using the massive factory infrastructure of the world, she left Boston to split her time between Silicon Valley and Asia.[16]


In January 2005, Jepsen joined Nicholas Negroponte to start One Laptop per Child. She led design of the $100 laptop with new screen and low power management architectures, new battery technology, new mesh networking protocol, and shipped millions of them to children in the developing world.[17] As of 2013, millions of units have shipped and revenues are beyond the billion dollar mark. Every child in Uruguay has an OLPC laptop. There are deployments in over 50 other countries and in more than 25 different languages.[18] [19]

For the entire first year of the effort (2005) she was the only employee of One Laptop per Child [OLPC]. By the end of 2005, she had completed the initial architecture, led the development of the first prototype (which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan unveiled at a UN summit), and signed up some of the world's largest manufacturers to produce the XO-1. By the end of 2007 she had led the laptop through development and into high volume mass production.

At OLPC, notably, Jepsen invented the laptop's sunlight-readable display technology and co-invented its ultra-low power management system – and – has transformed these inventions into high volume mass production rapidly. The XO laptop was the lowest-power laptop ever made. The laptop can sustain 5 foot drops, is mesh networked extending the reach of the network by letting signals hop from laptop to laptop.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

Pixel Qi[edit]

After three full years with OLPC, In early 2008 she left to start a for-profit company, Pixel Qi, to commercialize some of the technologies she invented at OLPC. [32] Pixel Qi's business was based on the concept that the screen is the most critical component of any mobile device.[33] Pixel Qi aimed to deliver high performance, low-power, sunlight-readable screens for mobile devices. The long term vision of Pixel Qi was to create devices that never needed to be recharged by lowering the power consumption and using alternative power generation and battery technologies. Pixel Qi screens became available in a few dozen commercial and specialized products with sunlight readability, and reduced screen power consumption (which typically accounts for about 90% of the power draw in an Apple iPad, and 70% of the power draw on a standard cell phone.[34]

Google X[edit]

Jepsen joined Google X in 2013 as Head of the Display Division.[35][non-primary source needed] She was also one of the first contributors in Google's "Solve for X"[36] projects with her idea of "Imaging the Mind's Eye".

Among her projects there was Google Lego TV: displays composed of smaller screens that plug together like Lego to create a seamless image and "live walls" or virtual reality without wearing anything on the face or body.[7]


In February 2015 she joined Facebook as an executive for virtual reality.[6]


In 2016, Jepsen founded OpenWater, a firm aiming to make fMRI-type imaging inside the body practical, at the price level of consumer electronics and in wearable form factors.[4][37]


Jepsen has won awards including:

She has also received numerous awards for the work she did at One Laptop per Child,[46] and has been named to many other "top" lists in computing by Fast Company, New York Times, IEEE Spectrum and others. While living in Taipei, she was the "foursquare" mayor of Carnegie's Restaurant and Bar, an expat watering hole in Taipei, Taiwan, and is quoted as saying "I honestly come here just for the food".[47]

Personal life[edit]

Jepsen is married to John Patrick Conor Ryan, formerly a partner at Monitor Group. In 1995, she suffered from a pituitary gland tumor and had it removed and thus suffers from panhypopituitarism, requiring a twice-daily regimen of hormone replacement;[48] her personal description of this and the ongoing challenges she faces was published in the New York Times.[49]


  1. ^ a b c d Kahle, Brewster (May 12, 2008). "The 2008 TIME 100: Scientists & Thinkers - Mary Lou Jepsen". Retrieved October 5, 2014. Jepsen, 43 
  2. ^ Jepsen, Mary Lou (November 23, 2013). "Bringing Back My Real Self With Hormones". The New York Times. 1978, when I was 13 
  3. ^ Open Water. "OpenWater". 
  4. ^ a b "Mary Lou Jepsen on Life Post-Facebook and New Startup,"Open Water"". 6 May 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  5. ^ Lear Corp. (9 March 2016). "Corporation Appoints Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen to Board of Directors". Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Oculus Has Hired Mary Lou Jepsen Away From Google X". 
  7. ^ a b "Google Is Inventing Screens That Snap Together Like Lego". October 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "The CNN 10: Thinkers". CNN. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ "About Our Mission, Team, and Editorial Ethics". Xconomy. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  10. ^ [1] Archived December 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Jepsen, Mary Lou (1997). "Liquid crystal filled diffraction gratings". 3125. Bibcode:1997PhDT........11J. 
  12. ^ [2] Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "DSpace@MIT: Holographic video : design and implementation of a display system". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Holography Pioneer Stephen A. Benton". MIT Video. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Mary Lou Jepsen: Laptops for All". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Maintenance Mode – OLPC News Forum". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Mary Lou Jepsen". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  18. ^ "OLPC Deployments as of October 2011 – Google Maps". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ "OLPC research". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  20. ^ "ACM Queue: A Conversation with Mary Lou Jepsen". Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ Pixel Qi "About Us" page, accessed October 5, 2008
  22. ^ "An excellent interview about de XO Design and technical choices". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  23. ^ "NPR piece on Hundred-dollar laptop in early 2006". March 20, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ "8 minute interview with Jepsen at WSIS, Tunis, November 2005". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ "6 minute video with Jepsen describing green features of the XO Laptop, 1 February 2008". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Grill: Pixel Qi's Mary Lou Jepsen on OLPC and the future of display technology". 19 January 2009. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  27. ^ "Mary Lou Jepsen acceptance speech for Anita Borg Women of Vision Award". YouTube. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Groklaw interview with Mary Lou Jepsen". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Newsweek story on Jepsen". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  30. ^ [3] Archived October 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ "Article on OLPC laptop featuring Jepsen's contributions". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  32. ^ "OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen quits nonprofit effort". 31 December 2007. Archived from the original on January 4, 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  33. ^ "Pixel Qi eyes Taiwan". Retrieved October 5, 2014.  (subscription required)
  34. ^ "Pixel Qi – Our Technology". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Sign Up – LinkedIn". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  36. ^ Nasir, Farhat. "Google X? Google Launches "Solve for X" For Discussing Radical Ideas to Solve World Problems!". Hitechanalogy. Archived from the original on November 19, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  37. ^ "TED 2018: Thought-Reading Machines and the Death of Love". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-07-29. 
  38. ^ "Brown confers nine honorary degrees". Brown University. May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Edwin H. Land Medal". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  40. ^ "2012 Fellows – Awards & Grants – The Optical Society". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Profiles of Technical Women: Famous Women in Computer Science". Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  42. ^ "BEAM Award Winners". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Horace Mann Medal". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Mary Lou Jepsen -". February 2, 2017. 
  45. ^ "ABIE Awards -". 
  46. ^ "Sign Up – LinkedIn". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Mary Lou J". Foursquare. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  48. ^ Mary Lou Jepsen – Inspiring, February 12, 2007
  49. ^ "Bringing Back My Real Self With Hormones". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 

External links[edit]