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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Jean-Daniel Nicoud visits Fourmilab

Jean-Daniel Nicoud On September 22nd, 2019, Prof. Jean-Daniel Nicoud, founder of the Laboratoire de Micro-Informatique (LAMI) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, visited Fourmilab. LAMI pioneered the optical computer mouse, the Smaky computer, and the Kephera robot, all of which were commercialised by spin-off companies, including Logitech.

In the mid-1990s, I supported a project at LAMI/EPFL to explore possible technological means of aiding in the removal of anti-personnel land mines which are the legacy of conflicts around the globe. The project sponsored two conferences, in Lausanne, Switzerland and Zagreb, Croatia, which were among the first to bring together operators working in de-mining in the field, technologists with promising approaches to improving the efficiency of such work, and NGOs looking to spend their money more effectively in achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating this legacy of war. LAMI developed a lightweight robot, PEMEX, which served as a testbed for sensor and actuator technology.

Since his retirement from EPFL in 2000, Prof. Nicoud has continued to pioneer cutting-edge technology through his company, DIDEL. There you will find what you need to build and fly ultralight aircraft (did I say “ultralight”?—we're talking less than ten grams!), program Arduinos, and explore the frontiers of the Maker culture on the threshold of the Roaring Twenties.

We had a great visit, and only spent a little time talking about the old days of building circuits from SSI TTL and 8 bit microprocessors, but mostly about what we, and our successors, will accomplish in the coming decade and afterward with the “extravagant computing” resources at their disposal.

These are the good old days.

Posted at September 24, 2019 00:22