And the Oscar Goes To...

...three computer scientists—Pixar’s Loren Carpenter,Rob Cook, and Ed Catmull—whose software led to movies like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Jurassic Park, The Phantom Menace, and even Forrest Gump

16 min read
Photo of Pixar’s Loren Carpenter, Rob Cook, and Ed Catmull.
Photo: Martin Klimek/Liason Agency Inc.

photo of Pixar\u2019s Loren Carpenter, Rob Cook, and Ed Catmull. Photo: Martin Klimek/Liason Agency Inc.

Watching the movie Toy Story 2, the moment I truly forgot that I was looking at computer-generated images was when Tour Guide Barbie climbed into her car; to me she was simply an actress perfectly cast for her part. And when I watched Jurassic Park, I was too busy waiting for disaster to happen to distinguish between the computer-generated images and the real film footage. Nor did I wonder how, in Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks could play such an amazing game of Ping-Pong. (He was playing without a ball; the ball was computer-generated later.)

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

World Builders Put Happy Face On Superintelligent AI

The Future of Life Institute’s contest counters today’s dystopian doomscapes

4 min read
A cityscape ensconced in an iridescent dome of light and shapes.
Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

One of the biggest challenges in a World Building competition that asked teams to imagine a positive future with superintelligent AI: Make it plausible.

The Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on existential threats to humanity, organized the contest and is offering a hefty prize purse of up to $140,000, to be divided among multiple winners. Last week FLI announced the 20 finalists from 144 entries, and the group will declare the winners on June 15.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Startup Makes It Easier to Detect Fires With IoT and Flir Cameras

The system employs predictive analytics and AI

3 min read
A tablet computer shows blueprints overlaid with thermal imagery.

MoviTHERM’s iEFD system’s online dashboard shows a diagram of the interconnected sensors, instruments, Flir cameras, and other devices that are monitoring a facility.


Fires at recycling sorting facilities, ignited by combustible materials in the waste stream, can cause millions of dollars in damage, injuring workers and first responders and contaminating the air.

Detecting the blazes early is key to preventing them from getting out of control.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Optimize Your Lab for Hybrid Learning

Set up a hybrid teaching lab that offers professional-grade tools with seamless connectivity and productivity

1 min read

As an engineering educator, you want to enable your students with the best skillsets for success in the real-world. This means giving them hands-on experience. Now, you can empower your students to test, analyze, and share results collaboratively — whether they are in the lab or not. Download now!

See what it takes to set up a productive teaching lab that offers:

Keep Reading ↓ Show less