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

Matthew Brand, 33

Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs

Matthew Brand studies mathematical approaches to learning and perception. That may sound dry, but, in fact, you may soon be seeing Brand’s work at a movie theater near you. The reason? His research leads to the creation of "digital puppets" that incorporate not just the appearance but also the mannerisms of movie stars. Brand moves easily between academic research and the private sector, but in both settings his persistent theme is designing computer systems that understand and interpret three-dimensional reality. In his research at MIT’s Media Lab he built an "artificial artist" that designed mobiles. This synthetic Calder combined computer vision methods for accumulating images with AI software that enabled it to pick out the most relevant features of each image. After studying at MIT and teaching at Northwestern, Brand moved to the Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, Mass., where he focuses on entertainment applications. He has developed a puppet that uses a voice interface (a face animated by speech input) and one driven by shadows. "Early adopters will most likely use this technology to synthesize people--historical, contemporary, or even nonexistent," says Brand. As such technology permeates Hollywood, it may create a new type of cinema for the 21st century.

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