IBM Patent Leadership: The Rise of a New Generation of Young Inventors

Stacy Hobson, IBM Research
Stacy Hobson, IBM Research

One of our young inventors grew up in a small town in rural South Carolina; another came from Bangladesh; and a third got hooked on computers at age seven in Haifa, Israel. What these three have in common is their youthful optimism and their dedication to one of IBM’s core values: innovation that matters for our company and the world.

This is no empty slogan: Today, IBM announced that it received a record 7,534 US patents in 2014, marking the 22nd consecutive year that the company topped the list of US patent recipients. Amazingly, on average, we receive more than one new US patent for every hour of every work day.

Hidden behind the raw statistics is an exciting insight: IBM’s young scientists, software programmers and engineers are making important contributions to the company’s innovation achievements. (Thoughts? Tweet to #patent, #invent.)

Across the company and across the globe, they’re advancing the state of the art in the technology areas that we believe will be critical for progress in businesses, government, individual empowerment and society as a whole. The technology areas we focus on go by the acronym CAMSS–for Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security. IBM is staking out leadership positions in each of them. And our young inventors play essential roles in fulfilling the company’s ambitions.

Here are mini-profiles of five of our outstanding young inventors–one for each of the CAMSS.

GiraffeCenter-300x225Stacy Hobson
Age: 35
Patents: 11
Location: IBM Research, Yorktown Heights, New York, USA
Personal history: Grew up in small town in rural South Carolina. Mom, a teacher; dad, U.S. Military. PhD in neuroscience and cognitive science from University of Maryland.
Shared patent: #8,635,673. For enabling or restricting access to information to particular individuals via MOBILE applications.
Scenario: Your bank offers you access to your credit rating real time as long as you retain a balance of more than $5,000 in your savings account. Data to access and the mobile app interface change dynamically based on your status.
Potential impact: Could become a core function of many mobile apps for consumers and enterprises.
What inspires her as an inventor: “I like to create knowledge that will provide value for people and will last a long time. Also, it’s a great conversation-starter at parties.”
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MarcoMarco Netto
Age: 34
Patents: 7
Location: IBM Research, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Personal history: Grew up in Caxias do Sul, in southern Brazil. Mom, a lawyer; dad, a civil engineer. Had never touched a computer when he selected computer science as his major. PhD in computer science from University of Melbourne, Australia.
Shared patent: #8,635,294. This smarter-cities technology sends alerts and shares data among separate organizations via CLOUD computing.
Scenario: Three cities on a frequently-flooding river share information so the downstream cities can prepare better for storms coming their way.
Potential impact: Given early warning, emergency managers can run simulations and prepare more effectively for dealing with flooding of streets, homes and businesses–saving lives and property.
What inspires him as an inventor: “I like coming up with ideas that nobody has thought of before. I’m never satisfied. I always try to improve my inventions.”
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JalalJalal Mahmud
Age: 35
Location: Watson Group, San Jose, Calif.
Patents: 13
Personal history: Grew up in Chittagong, the port city of Bangladesh. Dad was in ocean shipping, barge building and the garment industry; mom, a housewife. Dad’s businesses had ups and downs, and Jalal turned toward science–inspired by an uncle who was an engineer. Got his PhD in computer science from SUNY-Stonybrook.
Shared patent: #8,639,559. ANALYTICS software gathers and analyzes clicks on Web shopping search results.
Scenario: A department store chain offers customers incentives for installing click-tracking software on their browsers. The software records how the participants react when they see search results comparing the chain’s merchandise with that of competitors. Marketers adjust headlines and other messaging based on the analysis.
Potential impact: Retailers and merchandise brands sharpen their marketing tactics; consumers find the products they really want quicker and easier.
What inspires him as an inventor: “I like to solve real-world problems with novel approaches–impacting IBM’s business as well as the world.”
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Baughman-225x300Aaron K. Baughman
Age: 35
Patents: 21
Location: IBM Strategic Outsourcing, Silver Springs, Md., USA
Personal history: Moved around the eastern US as a kid–a “force multiplier” for learning through experiences. Mom, an IT executive; dad, a hospice chaplain. Got his M.S. in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University.
Shared patent: #8,856,061. For gathering and interpreting SOCIAL signals in entertainment venues.
Scenario: In an amusement park, sensor data is gathered to track individual’s enjoyment of rides and experiences. The data is analyzed to help people plan their paths through the venues.
Potential impact: Could be used to help people improve their experiences as tourists, in shopping malls, and at sporting events–in addition to amusement parks.
What inspires him as an inventor: “I love to learn. The invention process is prefect for that. I research to discover what is already known and done. Then I study and come up with a better way to do it.”
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photo-woot14-190x300Roee Hay
Age: 29
Patents: 10
Location: IBM Software Lab, Herzliyah, Israel
Personal history: Grew up in Haifa. Dad, a real estate investor. Mom, an artist, raised four boys. First computer at age 7. First programming at 10. Did some hacking; none malicious. B.S. in computer science from Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.
Shared patent: #8,806,133. For SECURITY against cache poisoning exploits.
Scenario: Malicious hackers use software vulnerabilities in the Windows PC operating system to steal sensitive data and fool individuals into performing transactions on phony Web sites. On shared computers, all users become vulnerable. The invention walls off users’ activities from each other.
Potential impact: Limits the impact of attacks on shared systems.
What inspires him as an inventor: “My team thinks like hackers. We spot vulnerabilities in systems and figure out how to exploit them. Then we invent defenses against those exploits. We’re making computer software safer.”
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