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AIO 2017: Focus on Dr. Hod Finkelstein, TruTag Technologies, USA

Sogol Borjian, Ph.D

What do you think people will learn from your talk as a take-home lesson?
The take-home lesson is that hyperspectral imaging is making giant strides towards becoming a ubiquitous technology. Despite the great challenges of snapshot hyperspectral imaging, the confluence of inexpensive embedded processing together with commercialization of technology which until now have been limited to high end imaging platforms, enables new applications which have been cost prohibitive before.
What do you spend most of your time doing?
I spend most of my time at work making sure that we select and implement the best technologies for the challenging problems faced by our customers. This includes scouting for new technologies and identifying those, which can be ported into commercially viable products meeting customer’s requirements. We work with customers in very diverse fields, from pharmaceutical manufacturing, to secure document printing and medical imaging. Getting to understand the underlying challenges and opportunities is where I spend most of my time.
When are you most fully yourself?
When I am able to gain insight on a technical problem which has been deemed unsolvable before. Often this involves “borrowing” a technology from a completely unrelated field to address a technical gap in a new way. Proving out this new approach and bringing it to market is quite enjoyable.
Where would you like to see your research in 5 years?
I’d like to see our technology make a difference in the world. Drug counterfeiting is a serious problem, not just financially, but because it impacts countless lives. Nobody wants to take a counterfeit drug and the bad guys are getting quiet sophisticated. Being able to deploy our solution to reduce this problem as well as to prevent illicit use of pharmaceuticals, will be a nice achievement. Of course I am very keen to see where our hyperspectral imaging technology will end up and which new applications it will facilitate. We are already working with customers on some very exciting applications and I am sure more will come. Of course, we are not resting on our laurels, and are already working on the next generation of imaging technologies.
Which companies should be interested in your research and why?
That is a great question. From previous experience I found that the “killer apps” often come from unexpected directions. Those applications do not exist today because the technological infrastructure is not present yet. Hopefully now that it exits, it will catalyze new ideas. I would expect that companies working on medical imaging applications such as digital pathology and other diagnostics where a handheld, high resolution and lower cost instrument is desired, will be interested. Ditto for applications such as food safety, precise agriculture and minerology. To name a few.
Is there a single word or phrase that would describe you?
I’d say “an outside the box thinker”. At least I hope I am.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I enjoy tackling complex problems which make a difference in the world. Finding nascent technologies which can be cultivated into a commercially viable product is rewarding for me.
Where does your passion come from?
I’ve worked in a number of disruptive companies – Intel, where I was part of the Pentium design team; Mellanox Technologies, which was one of the first companies to enable the Cloud; Vitasense which I started and which developed CMOS single photon detectors for digital health; and Illumina where I was responsible to develop disruptive instruments in the DNA sequencing space. Seeing how our work can be translated into changes in people’s lives is motivating. Setting the bar high and being able to deliver is the fuel that keeps me going.
What do you think makes AIO meeting a remarkable meeting? Why do you think AIO is a useful meeting to attend?
This is my first time. The program looks interesting and the fact that industry and academia come together to discuss leading edge research sounds like a great opportunity.
What is the question that you wish the attendees asked you after your talks and they never ask?
I have $10M to invest. Do you have any cool ideas?
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