14004 Madrone Place
Los Gatos, CA 95033 USA
Computer systems researcher, software engineer, and project manager with 13 patents granted in color scanning, embedded data in image and video processing, robotics, wireless sensor networks, gesture UI, and artificial intelligence. Open source & Linux advocate and developer. For 39 years worked at the forefront of innovation in software and hardware systems, user interface design, and new media at cutting edge labs such as Northrop Advanced Systems, Schlumberger, Sun Labs, AT&T Labs, Interval Research Corporation, Toyota Research Institute, and Xerox PARC. At Sun served on the Digital Rights Management Task Force and the Open Source Licensing Committee, working on intellectual property issues combined with new technologies for distribution, and filed 6 patents on wireless sensor networks. At Interval Research developed Virtual Reality content, patented robotic user interface techniques, and developed and patented a digital video search method. At Xerox PARC patented an amorphous-silicon color scanner design, and was the principle inventor of the Xerox “Glyph” technology, with 3 patents. At Art Center College of Design and at California College of the Arts lectured and advised graduate media students. At Montavista Software developed embedded Linux software and software tools for embedded Linux in an agile team. At Liquid Robotics worked on Linux camera and imaging software for an autonomous ocean going solar and wave powered robot. At Texas Instrument's Android Development Team in Sunnyvale, California worked on Android imaging support for the Google Nexus smartphone and prototype Google Glass. At Skully Helmets, developed an augmented reality motorcycle helmet product. At Toyota Partner Robots, prototyped an augmented reality system for the blind. Currently working with Toyota Research Institute on conversational AI prototypes.
Nov. 2016 - Now Bsquare/Toyota Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA – Senior Software Architect
- Software architect managing a Bsquare group working for the Toyota Research Institute; working on AI agents for auto/robots/buildings/wearables.
- Evaluating commercially available conversational AI agents via prototyping under Linux.
2015-2016 Bsquare/Toyota Partner Robots, San Jose, CA – Senior Software Architect
- Software architect managing integration for an augmented reality embedded Android wearable device that employs cameras and sensors to guide blind users for the Toyota Partner Robots group.
- Coordinating hardware and software development between internal and external teams located in the U.S. and overseas.
- Hands-on Android software development and embedded STML32 programming.
2014-2015 Skully Helmets, San Francisco, CA - Director of Software, Adjunct Scientist
- Employee No. 6; started as consultant, then Director of Software, then Adjunct Scientist for a start-up developing an augmented reality motorcycle helmet.
- Evaluation, selection, development and testing of key software components and telematics for embedded Android, and also for Android and iOS smartphones..
- Patent and intellectual property development, working with patent counsels. Filed 4 patent applications.
- Interfacing with external design, hardware, and user interface software contractors for the planning, development, and prototyping of the helmet and associated software.
- Oversight and goal setting of hardware and software contractors in India, using remote collaboration tools including Jira, Confluence, and GitHub, including testing of board systems during bring-up.
- Replicated and managed local Android build system for embedded Android, using Ubuntu Linux.
- Replicated and tested local Android and iOS builds for Android and iOS smartphones.
- Developed image warp maps for real-time image processing using GeoSemiconductor embedded processor, using proprietary software running on Windows 7.
- Testing of prototype real-time camera, image processing, and heads-up display systems in functional motorcycle helmets. Evaluation of camera and display modules.
- Collaborated with UI design team to develop story-boards, wireframes, and prototype Android and iOS companion apps for the helmet.
2014 – Independent Consultant/Contractor
- Patent and product analysis for intellectual property
negotiation – Triple Crown Consulting LLC, Campbell, CA.
- Linux and Android systems programming, including coprocessor –
Tobii Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
2010-2013 – Texas Instruments, Sunnyvale, CA – Linux
Imaging Engineer, Android Development Team / Systems Engineering
- Android (Froyo, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean)
internals software development for OMAP4/OMAP5 multi core
processors (complete system sources and compilation, including
- Java programming on Linux of Ducati coprocessor heap
management performance analytics.
- C programming of Ducati coprocessor memory management.
- Supported system software development for Google Nexus Prime /
- Supported Image processing, computational photography, and
camera control software development.
- Direct interaction with Google and other OMAP/Android
- Open source community involvement and relations.
2009-2010 – Liquid Robotics, Sunnyvale,
CA – Senior Software Engineer
- Software engineering for an autonomous solar and wave powered
ocean going robot platform with satellite communication.
- Linux systems programming on embedded ARM and OMAP processors.
- Image processing and camera control software development,
utilizing Angstrom Linux, ImageMagick, and gPhoto open source
2008-2009 –MontaVista Software, Santa Clara, CA –
Application Software Engineer
- Worked with field application engineers and marketing to
define next generation Linux system tools.
- Extended system development and packaging tools for
MontaVista’s real-time Linux distributions as part of an agile
development team spread across three states, communicating via
online collaboration tools. Modifed BitBake/Open-Embedded Python
language based build tools. ARM/TI-3430 Linux system build
development. Linux “userland” and UI software programming, in
GTK and C, for the Linux subsystem provided by Montavistsa for
Dell's new Latitude ON laptops. Linux
system administration and web services for CENTOS build machines
used for shared development.
- Acting team leader for agile programming team in absence of
2008-2008 – Droplet Technology, Menlo Park, CA – Senior
- Developed entropy encoding methods in C under Windows XP with
Cygwin/GCC for Droplet's proprietary non-blocked wavelet-based
video compression codec. Analyzed image and codec statistics
- Ported an earlier version of Droplet's codec to the Symbian
operating system (using Carbide/Eclipse) for Nokia handsets.
2007-2012 – California College of Arts,
San Francisco, CA – Science and Technology Advisor for Graduate
- Providing graduate Media Design program faculty and students
information and resources regarding science and technology,
including biology, psychophysics, history, and hardware and
2007 – (ACI) NASA Ames Research Center – Senior
Technology Strategist (contractor) - Strategic
Business Development Office (Office of the Center Director)
- Worked on highly leveraged technology partnerships between
NASA and several major technology companies, matching capability
and intents in terms of technology, people, and business
- Successes included a Memorandum of Understanding between Sun
Microsystems and NASA for multi-million dollar value in five
areas of collaboration covering supercomputing, Open Source
development, and wireless sensor networks.
- Worked on two additional Space Act Agreements with other high
- Visited Cape Canaveral and coordinated for deployment of beta
commercially available advanced photogrammatic visualization
software from Microsoft Research for Space Shuttle flight and
in-orbit operations, and possible use for Mars rovers.
2006-2007 - Fonly Institute, Palo Alto,
- Image processing and device control - C programming under
Microsoft Visual Studio & Windows XP to access and process
raw image data from two types of digital cameras.
- Image processing of raw Bayer mosaic color sensor data to
achieve grayscale super resolution.
- Advised on lighting, lenses, and UI design for a handheld
scanner for 2-D bar codes.
- Prepped image processing software for port to TI DSP for
functional prototype of the handheld scanner.
2004-2006 Sun Microsystems Laboratories, Menlo Park, CA
- Senior Staff Engineer
- Member of the Sun SPOT Project, developing wireless sensors
- Programmed in C, Java, on OS X and Linux, and nesC under
TinyOS on the Crossbow Mote platform (Atmega128L AVR). Shell
scripting and CGI-bin programming under Linux. Java on Sun SPOT
wireless sensor network platform (ARM7 & ARM9).
- Presented numerous briefings to analysts and major Sun
customers, and worked with Sun field sales representatives.
- Filed 6 patents on a new form of time-decay RFID tag,
gesture-based UI for provisioning software, novel provisioning
and communication schemes for mobile devices, swarm-intelligence
based theft detection, and tamper-respondent crypto key
distribution. All six have issued..
- Participated in a design study with NASA/JPL for the Deep
Space Array Network.
- Co-invented a novel tamper-respondent crypto key device
developed for US Navy SPAWAR. Managed subcontractors and
suppliers to implement the device.
- Sun’s representative to the working group of the National
Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems.
- Member of the Sun Labs committee on Open Source licensing, the
Sun Digital Rights Management task force (derived a novel
strategic matrix based on identity, sources of data emission,
and licensing for Sun’s new DRM strategy), and the Sun CTO
patent review committee.
- Championed and contributed to a funded educational project for
Sun SPOTS with the Graduate Media Design Program at the Art
Center College of Design.
- Invited speaker at the AMIGRO 2006 Ambient Intelligence
Conference, Groningen, Netherlands.
2002-2006 Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA -
- Graduate studies thesis advisor, guest lecturer for the Art
Center College of Design graduate Media Studies and graduate
Industrial Design departments.
2003 VIPMobile, Inc. Menlo Park, CA - Head of Research
- Principal Investigator for the Phase I design and development
of the VIPMobile video compression system for SOF Reconnaissance
Missions for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
- Brought together the winning team of subcontractors including
Droplet Technologies for video compression and Set Engineering
(the designers of the original Palm Pilot) for hardware.
- Submitted four SIBR responses to RFP for DOD and DARPA, for
U.S. Navy video compression, OSD "smart dog tag" (incorporating
UWB radio technology), SOCOM team transportable computer and
threat warning system, and DARPA "My Day" personal video
Intuit, Mountain View, CA
- Java and C programming for graphics processing under Linux and
Windows 2000 for custom processing of customer graphics uploaded
via the Web for integration into business forms. Implemented
using Java and Open Source software including Ghostscript and
- Delivered a tutorial on strategy and tactics to Intuit's human
factors and marketing teams.
Mobile Persuasion Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford,
- Program management for a Palm Pilot application.
- User testing of web based UI.
- Psychological measurement and coding of user testing regarding
a web-site "believability" study.
Oregon Public Radio
- Consulted on the design of a simulated high school for web
based interactive game aimed at students.
- Video editing and DVD design and production.
2000-2002 AT&T Labs’ "Menlo Studio", Menlo Park, CA
- Technology Consultant (a "Band C" management position)
- Menlo Studio was an advanced design and prototyping "studio",
focusing on small Internet devices and on messaging services.
- Created a concept design for a small wearable video escrow
recording device - "Fair Witness".
- Directed a contract with Studio Red of Redwood City to do the
mockups, and managed discussions with AT&T Wireless to
explore 3G services based on Fair Witness.
- Directed (system architect and group leader) the creation of a
very powerful very compact wearable Linux computer system as a
prototyping tool for exploring networked rich media services,
including Fair Witness - the "Kava Project. Kava was delivered
in December 2001 as a Palm III sized wearable Linux computer
using a 700MHz Intel XScale processor, a dual CPU AMD DSP, 250M
RAM, and 500M Flash, with CD quality digital audio IO, 802.11,
Ethernet, and V90 on daughter cards. It was an Open Source
hardware and software platform - the first such approved by
- Program management included developing and managing vendor
relationships with Intel, Analog Devices, Studio Red, and Set
- Traveled to Europe as AT&T’s representative to the Star
Labs sponsored I-Wear Consortium for smart clothing and wearable
1992-2000 Interval Research Corporation, Palo Alto, CA -
Member of the Research Staff, Computation and Perception
- Interval was founded by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft)
and David Liddle (former CEO of Metaphor and vice president of
IBM) to explore new models for computing and to develop new
technology and interfaces.
- After joining as employee #9, focused on immersive
technologies (Virtual Reality), robotics, and interface design.
- Participated in the creation of a large-scale
multi-participant virtual environment installation,
"Placeholder", which focused on natural landscapes and narrative
play. The project was co-sponsored by Interval and the Banff
Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. Acted as Interval's
technical lead for the project, performing audio field capture
and massive amounts of C programming for audio and gestural UI.
- Created and managed a project exploring the use of emotional
communication between robots and people, which resulted in a
prototype robotic system, and in the granting of a two very
broad patents covering emotional communication, where the major
prior art cited was Charles Darwin’s "The Expression of the
Emotions in Man and Animals".
- Participated in a project designing new interfaces for video
browsing and filed a patent application, based on the use of
MPEG motion vectors for video search (granted 2007).
- Acted as a technical advisor to an Interval spin-off company
producing computer games, Purple Moon, on subjects ranging from
primate social behavior to audio field capture, online
communities, software standards and tools.
- Public speaking included invited lectures at Stanford
University, The Royal College of the Arts (London), and several
other campuses and conferences.
Sun Microsystems Labs
- Developed a new methodology for judging image quality
(initially applied to JPEG and MPEG compression) based on the
visual contrast sensitivity function.
- Lectured lab staff in Mountain View, CA and at Billerica, MA
on human and non-human visual perception.
- Evaluated third party technologies for Sun at Reflection
Technologies, Inc. (head mounted displays) and Aware, Inc.
- Developed algorithms for improved digital halftoning.
- Wrote a white paper analyzing strategy and tactics for
technology development of multimedia, virtual/augmented reality,
high definition television, and image and video compression,
including detailed proposals for developing scalable video
compression aimed at computer networked teleconferencing.
Silicon Beach, Inc. of San Diego
- Designed, implemented, and documented a Macintosh application
and object-oriented developer's tool kit for the programming,
editing, and iconic display of arithmetic strings representing
finite multisets and trees.
- Developed a C algorithm for fast bi-level error diffusion
halftoning that was used in their flagship image processing
program "Digital Darkroom".
1988-1991 XEROX Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
Electronic Document Laboratory, Palo Alto, CA - Member Research
- Received a Xerox CRG/PARC Inventor's Recognition award for
patent work - filed 4 patents (3 of which issued) in the area of
embedded digital data in documents, covering two new
technologies for invisibly embedding digital data in pixelmaps
and documents at much higher bit densities than previous
technologies such as bar-codes.
- Received a patent for the design of an amorphous silicon
document scanner that was inherently perceptually color-correct.
- Responsible for technology transfer of color
rendering/correction, image processing, halftoning, and display
software to Xerox business units from EDL.
- Developed image processing, display, printing, and halftoning
algorithms and software, and integrated software and hardware
systems for a color measurement laboratory.
- Public speaking included lectures at the Bay Area ACM SIGGRAPH
on color perception and reproduction and at SiliCon '90 on
visual perception in humans and non-humans.
1987-1988 XEROX Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) Systems
Concepts Laboratory, Palo Alto, CA - Contributing Engineer
- Member of the Smalltak-80 programming group at SCL as it
prepared for a spin-out from PARC.
- Designed and implemented graphics, imaging, and printing
software for Smalltalk-80.
- Designed and created the logo, disc labels business cards,
brochures, promotional materials, etc., for the commercial Xerox
rollout of Smalltalk-80.
1985-1987 Schlumberger Palo Alto Research Computer-Aided
Systems Laboratory, Palo Alto, CA - Member Technical Staff
- Transferred from a business unit into the SPAR research lab to
pursue experimental work in color reproduction, based on the
spectroradiometry of inks and toners, human visual system color
responses, image transducer response curves, and source and
- Developed spectroradiometric data presentation and analysis
software, used to characterize the psychophysics of color
computer graphics hardcopy.
- Developed image processing software - Haar transform (used to
synthesize deep depth of focus images from collections of
shallow depth of focus images), smoothing, edge enhancement,
gamma correction, and color correction.
- Originated the concept of and participated in the system
design of the Schlumberger Benson Prism (TM) color controller
for Benson’s single-pass color electrostatic plotter.
- Modified black and white UNIX typesetting and rasterization
software and device drivers to typeset and print in color, with
embedded halftoned color images.
1983-1985 Benson, Inc. (a Schlumberger company), San
Jose, CA - Senior Systems Analyst
- Designed and implemented a wide variety of graphics software,
in C and Fortran, including a portable GKS/VDM interpreter,
color halftoning algorithms for a four-color ink-jet plotter, an
interactive screen editor for vector text font design, and
diagnostic software for Benson controllers and plotters.
- Led corporate C language training.
- Served as liaison with the Fairchild Laboratory for Artificial
Intelligence Research, which later became Schlumberger Palo Alto
1981-1983 Compression Labs, Inc., San Jose CA - Senior
- Group leader of four programmers for 68000 development.
- Designed and implemented a multi-user real-time operating
system micro-kernel, written in C and 68000 assembler, for the
68000 based executive processor of CLI's T1 video codec.
- Developed a portable command line interpreter, written in C,
for the codec.
- Designed and implemented memory and systems diagnostics for
Z80 and 68000 computers.
1980-1981 Fairchild Test Systems, San Jose, CA - Test
- Group leader of five programmers for automatic test equipment
- Invented and implemented an automatic programming system for
Nova-3 based bed-of-nails automatic test equipment, and designed
and implemented an interactive project database, programming in
BASIC and FORTRAN.
1979-1980 Northrop Defense Systems - Advanced Systems
Group, Rolling Meadows, IL - Engineer
- This position required a DOD "Secret" level clearance.
- Designed and implemented radar signal processing and
electronic warfare algorithms, including Walsh transforms, in
BASIC, FORTRAN and assembler, and wrote instruction set
micro-code for 2901 bitslice.
1978-1979 Interstate Assurance, Des Moines, IA -
- Database programming in FORTRAN, COBOL and 8080 assembler.
Tow, R. "Methods and Means for Embedding Machine Readable Digital
Data in Halftone Images" - U.S. Patent no. 5,315,098, May 1994.
This is the basic "Smart Paper" (TM) / DataGlyph (TM) patent)
The following patents describe the technology - a degenerate case
of the Halftone case above - used in DataGlyph (TM), as
incorporated in Xerox's Paperworks(TM).
Bloomberg, D., Tow, R. - "Adaptive Scaling for Decoding Spatially
Periodic Self-clocking Glyph Shape Codes" - U.S. Patent no.
5,091,966, February 1992. This was the first "Smart Paper"
(TM) patent to issue.
Bloomberg, D., Hect, D., Flores, P., Tow, R. - "Self-clocking
Glyph Shape Codes " - U.S. Patent no. 6076738, June, 2000.
Smith, Z, Street, R., Tow, R. - "Spectral Resolving and Sensing
Apparatus" - U.S. Patent No. 5,037,201, August 1991. This the
first design for a page scanner that scans spectra, and emits
CIE triplets - it is inherently perceptually correct.
Tow, R. "Affect-based Robot Communication Methods and Systems" -
U.S. Patent No 5,832,189, November, 1998. The major prior art
cited was Charles Darwin's "The Expression of the Emotions in
Man and Animals"!
Tow, R. "Affect-based Robot Communication Methods and Systems" -
U.S. Patent No 6038493, March, 2000. This was a continuation
of the first robot patent above, citing claims related to actual
bodies in space as opposed to simulated bodies.
Tow, R., Rahimi, A., Saunders S., Charnley, D., Kotik, G - "Video
Stream Representation and Navigation Using Inherent Data", U.S.
Patent No 7,266,771, September, 2007. A method of presenting
navigation info through stored video taking advantage of
pre-computed MPEG motion vectors displayed in a perceptually
tuned fashion (e.g., a browse bar of hue/saturation/lightness
Tow, R., Smith, R., Scott, G., Meike, R - "Chemical Modification
of An Object", U.S. Patent No 7,321,307, January, 2008. A new
method of providing time coursed activation/deactivation of RFID
and other mechanisms.
Goldman, R., Tow, R., Smith, R. – "Organizing Communications in a
Network", U.S. patent No 7697488, April 2010. A decentralized
swarm intelligence method for emergent timing of sparse
communication windows in wireless networks.
Nolan, J., Smith, R., Tow, R. - "Method and Apparatus for
Spatially Stationary Software on Mobile Devices", U.S. patent No
7761906, July 2010. Software as a ghost-like presence of
place - locus genii!
Smith, R., Tow, R. - "Method for Detecting Objects Separated from
a Group", U.S. patent No 7538670, May 2009. A swarm
intelligence approach to theft detection, using sensor network
Smith, R, Tow, R. - "Method and Apparatus for Transferring
Digital Content", U.S. patent No 8659546, January 2014. A
gesture based UI method for provisioning digital content.
Hughes, J., Tow, R. – "Method and Apparatus for Secure Information Distribution", U.S. patent No 9015075. A wireless tamper respondent crypto key device using MEMS accelerometers for a gesture interface.
PUBLIC VIRTUAL REALITY PROJECT
"Placeholder: Landscape and Narrative in Virtual Environments".
Produced by Brenda Laurel and Rachel Strickland; Interval Research
Corporation and The Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, Banff,
PAPERS (journals, book chapters, and conference
Laurel, B, Tow, R. "Computers: A Classic Reconfigured", Science
21 September 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5845, pp. 1684 – 1685.
Tow, R. "Clockwork and Steam Engines; Apollo and Rain Forests;
Ubiquity and Ambience",
AMIGRO 2006 Ambient Intelligence Conference, Groningen,
"Strategy and Tactics for Research and Design", Design
Research: Methods and Perspectives, Brenda Laurel Ed.,
M.I.T. Press, October 2003.
Mark Scheeff, John Pinto, Kris Rahardja, Scott Snibbe, Rob Tow.
"Experiences with Sparky, a Social Robot". Proceedings of the
Workshop on Interactive Robotics and Entertainment
Greg Garvey, Brenda Laurel, Rob Tow, Joan Staveley, Allucquere
Rosanne Stone. "Grids, Guys and Gals: Are You Oppressed by the
Cartesian Coordinate System? " (panel session). SIGGRAPH 1995:
Brenda Laurel and Rob Tow, "Placeholder: Real Bodies in Virtual
Worlds”. 8th Computer Game Developers Conference, April 1994.
Brenda Laurel, Rachel Strickland, and Rob Tow, "Placeholder:
Landscape and Narrative in Virtual Environments." ACM
Computer Graphics Quarterly, May 1994.
"Placeholder: Technology and the Senses". ACM Computer Graphics
Multimedia Conference, October 1994.
"Painting the Future". 1st International Symposium, National
Security and National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions,
"An Improved Error Diffusion Algorithm", Proceedings of the
Society for Imaging Science and Technology 43rd Annual
Conference, May 1990.
PUBLISHED AUDIO AND MUSICAL RECORDINGS
Binaural audio field recording for the “Placeholder” virtual
reality project, 1993.
Binaural audio field recording for Purple Moon's "Secret Paths to
the Sea", an interactive CD-ROM, 1997.
Guest artist on Tibetan bowls, "Locus Voci", on the album "The
Sirius Expeditions" by Dogon (available from New Dog Records,
1998). Recording engineer for binaural digital recording.
"Kelp Scum", ambient field recordings, Rob Tow and Brenda Laurel,
Grinnell College. University of Iowa, B.Sc.