PARC Hard at Work to Solve Problems in Health Care, Batteries, Traffic
PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) this week reminded everyone what an innovator it is. The lab, nestled in the Palo Alto, Calif., foothills, on March 6 gave reporters a look into diverse projects that it is working on and that will reach the market in a few years, such as long-living batteries, on-demand downtown parking and digital health care-assistant devices. The world-famous think tank started out on Sept. 23, 1970, as Xerox PARC, the R&D arm of Xerox. The idea was not to build a better document copier but to get into what the institution describes as "business of breakthroughs." In 2002, PARC was incorporated as a wholly owned yet independent subsidiary of Xerox. Currently, PARC has an impressive list of customers, with about 40 percent of its business from Xerox and 30 percent from government contracts. Its revenue is in the $100 million range. Many familiar inventions were created at PARC, including the graphical user interface for computers, laser printing, computer programming languages, Ethernet networking and VLSI (very large-scale integration) circuit design.
Health Care: Video Cameras, Image Processing to Monitor Patient's Vital Signs
It is very important to continuously monitor the heart rate of a premature infant. But the current methods for capturing that data are very intrusive. They rely on placing electrodes on an infant's paper-thin skin or attaching sensors to a tiny finger or earlobe. PARC is in the early stages of a research project that uses non-obtrusive video cameras and image processing technologies to obtain accurate cardiac pulse measurements. Contactless monitoring of vitals such as a heart rate will help eliminate patient discomfort, reduce the chance of infections and help medical professionals work more efficiently.