The $ 100,000 prize goes to former President of Bell Labs who steered crucial research that helped world transition from analogue to digital TV
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore June 17 2017: The US-based Marconi Society, has honoured Dr Arun Netravali, pioneer behind High Definition TV technology and the MPEG standard for storing video and sound.
He has been named as the 2017 recipient of the presrtigious Marconi Prize, named after the inventor of wireless communication.
The $ 100,000 ( Rs 65 lakhs) prize has been awarded earlier to Internet pioneers including Father of the Internet", Vint Cerf; Inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Ankola (Karnataka)-born Dr Netravali, is the former President of Bell Labs ( now Nokia Bell Labs) in the US. He served the institution for 3 decades till 2003 and led pioneering work on video compression standards that served as the key base technology for MPEG 1, 2 and 4 and enabled a wide range of video services including digital TV, HDTV, and streaming video. He has been credited with kickstarting the digital video revolution and enabling the global change over from analogue to digital TV.|
Previous winners of Indian origin have been educationist and former University Grants Commission Chairman Prof. Yash Pal in 1980 and Stanford University emeritus professor and wireless antennas pioneer Dr Arogyaswami Paulraj in 2014. |
In recent years, both Paulraj and Netravali have served the Indian government on the global board of advisers for its telecom initiative. Says Paulraj: "Arun is rare combination of a scholar who made fundamental contributions to information technology as well as providing visionary leadership to Bell Laboratories. Everyone who worked with Arun has great admiration for his scientific and managerial capabilities. Arun's group at Bell Labs was the pioneer in HDTV technology that has gone on to transform the digital delivery of entertainment and media. Arun and I had overlapping interests in Indian telecom policy and it was indeed a pleasure to work with him."
The awards ceremony will take place in Summit, New Jersey on October 3, preceded by a symposium at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill
, on the core interest of Dr Netravali: digital video and its societal impact.
“Few things have had a greater impact on communications in recent years than the digital video revolution led by Arun,” says Dr. Vint Cerf, Chairman of the Marconi Society and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. “Everywhere you look, video is transforming the way we communicate on mobile devices and how we consume entertainment and news. Movies, YouTube, live streaming--it is literally transforming how people interact. The next generation of video based on this technology, including virtual reality, promises to revolutionize video consumption, delivery and business models once again.”
Dr. Netravali took pride in helping promote a highly collaborative approach to research. “Bell Labs cultivated the brightest minds across many different science and engineering disciplines; it is this diversity that really enables large-scale system development," he says, “Regardless of one’s role, we knew that the fundamental mission was excellence in communications.”
Netravali created a single, interdisciplinary team to develop HDTV and MPEG---a new type of organization where researchers and developers sat side-by-side to deliver new technologies quickly to the market. New research ideas in digital video – based on fundamental research advances – quickly found their way into deployed products. He led Bell Labs ( earlier, Lucent) at a time when it had 22,000 employees and a budget of $3.5 billion, launched 35 ventures, turned out an average of four patents per day, and developed leading edge products in wireless, optical and data communications at record speeds.
Netravali, spend his childhood in Mumbai and studied at Elphinstone College and IIT Bombay where he did his B.Tech. He went to the US and obtained MS and PhD from Rice University, Houston, Texas. He joined Bell Labs, in 1972 where he remained till 2003, became a founder and managing partner of OmniCapital, a private equity firm based in Massachusetts and New Jersey.