UD alumnus Frederick Kitson addresses the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering's Research Day audience.

Technological immersion

UD alum discusses sound technology advances at research celebration

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3:16 p.m., March 22, 2013--In the past, adults believed that children should be seen and not heard. According to Frederick Kitson, a University of Delaware alumnus who gave the keynote address at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Research Day, technology should be heard and not seen.

Held March 6 at the Roselle Center for the Arts, ECE Research Day annually recognizes alumni achievements and undergraduate and graduate research in the areas of signal processing and communications, nanoelectronics and electromagnetics, computer engineering and biomedical engineering. 

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Kitson, executive vice president and chief technology officer of DTS Inc., discussed how the industry has evolved from focusing on technical design to providing an immersive user experience. This evolution, he says, began in 1979 with the release of the Sony Walkman — the first portable sound technology — and has extended to the industry’s latest advances in 3D sound technology.

Today’s users want a more realistic experience when playing a video game or listening to music, he explained. Technological enhancements such as Blu-ray devices, smart TVs and 3D sound make the entertainment experience more lifelike without weighing users down with complicated back end details of how things work.

“The metaphor for this is an iceberg. Part of the iceberg is below the water, and it’s the part you don’t typically see,” explained Kitson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at UD in 1974. In his analogy, the underlying technology is like the hidden part of the iceberg, seamlessly stabilizing and enhancing the user experience while remaining unseen.

Before joining DTS, Kitson was vice president of Motorola’s Applied Research and Technology Center, where he led development of innovations such as high quality mobile video encoding and media for mobile devices that can adapt to different devices and listening environments. Previously, he spent more than a decade with Hewlett-Packard’s global research and development labs, working on encoding, decoding, and compression methods to improve for mobile media.

In addition to serving as the event’s keynote speaker, Kitson was awarded the department’s Distinguished Achievement Award for his career accomplishments. 

Three other alumni received career achievement awards. They are:

  • Thomas McCormick, founder, president and CEO of American Electric Inc., who received the Entrepreneurial Innovation Award;
  • Karen Bloch, strategic planning manager for DuPont’s chief engineer and vice president, who received the Outstanding Service Award; and
  • Qian Xie (Casey), principal scientist for Broadcom, who received the Young Alumni Achievement Award.  

A student poster session showcasing student research rounded out the event. The following doctoral students earned awards for their outstanding research:

  • Elkin Garcia, “Overcoming New Challenges in the Many — Core Era: From High Performance to Energy Efficiency;”
  • Anagha Kulkarni, “Spin Control in Quantum Dot Molecule;” and
  • Yin Zhou, “SHREC: 3D Shape Recognition via Dictionary Learning.”

The event was sponsored in part by SAIC, DTS and JPMorgan Chase. 

Article by Sarah E. Meadows

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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