Ramesh Raskar is an Associate Professor at MIT and head of the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group. Before he became a professor, Ramesh Raskar was a student with creative ambitions in the world of photography and technology. With successes in augmented reality (improved version of the real word using technology), photography and technology, Raskar now holds over 90 patents and over 120 reviewed publications.
Ramesh Raskar was born in Nashik, India in 1970 and went on to study at the College of Engineering in Prune, India. During college he was drawn to special effects after seeing the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park,” a film that made huge advances in computer generated imaging (CGI) with realistic looking dinosaurs. Raskar used this inspiration to explore projector-based, three-dimensional graphics and spatial augmented reality at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his doctorate degree.
After receiving his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Raskar joined the Mitsubishi Electronics Research Lab (MERL) where he continued expanding his research in creative camera and projector techniques. The research that he conducted produced 40 patents and generated key ideas in several fields.
In 2008, Raskar decided to leave Mitsubishi and embark on teaching and mentorship at MIT. He founded the Camera Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab in 2008. He also invented many things like a camera that operates at the speed of light, imaging that can look around corners, as well as a next-generation CAT-scan machine (used to view internal organs, bones, tissue) and 3D interaction displays.
In 2016, Raskar received the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for his overall collection of inventive work including his invention of Femto- photography. This photography method combined an ultra-fast imaging technique using a camera and computer software to create the sense of peering “around corners.” The problems it could potentially help to solve is locating people in smoke engulfed buildings and navigating in foggy driving conditions.
Raskar was recognized as one of the top innovators under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review in 2004. Raskar also participated in a Ted Talk in 2012 called “Imaging at a trillion frames per second,” where he sparked inspiration in others in the world of photography. He has received numerous honors including the 2009 Sloan Research Fellowship, the 2010 DARPA Young Faculty Award, the 2011 Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project Award (first place), PharmaVOICE 100, Edison Awards, two Deshpande Center Innovation Grants, the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Innovator Award, the LAUNCH Health Innovation Award, two Mitsubishi Electric Valuable Invention Awards, MIT Global Indus Technovator, and the Best 10 New Products Prize in Japan.
In February 2020, Raskar and his team launched Private Kit: SafePaths, a public health tool for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.