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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Joe Pompei, 30

Delivers "spotlights" of sound for use in concerts, museums, and automobiles


Joe Pompei founded Watertown, MA-based Holosonics on what many acoustics experts called a crackpot idea: directing sound in a narrow beam. But Pompei says his attitude was, “this is too cool not to work.” He developed the initial technology in 1999 at MIT, the only school that gave him the green light on his PhD proposal. Within three months, he had a prototype of Audio Spotlight. The system includes a processor and a pizza-pan-sized transducer. First, the processor compresses the ling wavelength of an audible frequency into millimeter-long wavelengths of inaudible ultrasound. Then the transducer transmits the now tightly focused signal. In the air, the ultrasonic waves begin to elongate and regress to the original audible frequency, but only within the confines of a narrow beam. At distances of up to 200 meters, listeners in the beam’s path hear sound clearly, but those mere meters away from them do not. Dozens of groups have adopted the system: rock band U2 is experimenting with it to direct music at concerts; it’s used in museum and trade shows; and DaimlerChrysler installed it in Maxxcab truck models to provide personalized audio zones for passengers.

2003 TR35 Winners

Geoffrey Barrows

Gives unmanned reconnaissance planes insect vision

Serafim Batzoglou

Devises powerful tools for assembling and analyzing genomes

Cynthia Breazeal

Constructs robots whose expressive faces convey humanlike emotions

Ian Clarke

Pioneered software that delivers Web files quickly, anonymously

Andre DeHon

Designs architectures needed to build practical molecular computers

Daniel Gottesman

Works to improve quantum computers so they can speed drug design and perform other massive computing tasks

Kathryn Guarini

Fabricates three-dimensional integrated circuits that could vastly increase computer power

Vic Gundotra

Sparked Microsofts change to .Net

Andrew Heafitz

Invented inexpensive rocket-based surveillance systems

Steven Hofmeyr

Devised software that roots out security threats to a networks operating system

Mike Horton

Engineers tiny sensors that can be spread like crumbs around a battlefield or factory

Ayanna Howard

Writes programs that more intelligently guide actions of robots

Kevin Lee

Integrates photonics and electronics on chips to speed telecommunications

Desmond Lim

Develops high-volume manufacturing lines for making optical chips into commodities

Michael OConnor

Designed an automated tractor steering system that is saving farmers bushels of money

Joe Pompei

Delivers "spotlights" of sound for use in concerts, museums, and automobiles

Jovan Popovic

Makes simpler, more powerful animation tools for novices and professionals

Thomas Reardon

Tailors Internet application to cell phones

Torsten Reil

Employs simulations of human movement to create realistically animated characters

Heike Riel

Built large, bright, organic video displays using materials dismissed by contemporaries

Maximilian Riesenhuber

Programs computers to recognize objects the way the human brain does

Linda Rottenberg

Helps entrepreneurs in emerging nations turn innovations into business

Ted Sargent

Fashions photonic circuits that could speed voice and data to homes

Tim Sibley

Serves up customized audio and video gems

Alex Vasilescu

Transforms computers ability to recognize human faaces

Lorraine Wheeler

Codes software that makes handheld computers handier

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto

Builds brain-imaging machines that are faster and cheaper than magnetic-resonance imaging equipment


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