Takeo Kanade (Tamba, Hyogo, Japan, 1945) earned a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Kyoto University (Japan) in 1974. After teaching there for several years, in 1980 he moved to what would become his principal academic home, Carnegie Mellon University (United States), where he is currently U. A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor in Computer Science. At Carnegie Mellon, he has served as Director of the Robotics Institute (1992 to 2001), as well as founding the Quality of Life Technology Center which he led from 2006 to 2012. He also founded and led the Digital Human Research Center in Tokyo, an initiative of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Holder of more than 20 patents, he has served on advisory boards for the likes of NASA and the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research. Among his editorial positions, Kanade was founding editor of International Journal of Computer Vision; and belongs or has belonged to the editorial boards of publications such as Medical Image Analysis, International Journal of Robotics Research and Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Kanade catalyzed the field of three-dimensional computer vision with a series of algorithms far faster than any previously available, opening up a new wealth of practical applications. Along with his doctoral student Bruce Lucas, in 1981 he developed a method to estimate the movement of objects in images recorded by several cameras simultaneously, enabling them to be combined efficiently – an essential prerequisite for 3D videos. Nowadays, his algorithm is used in practically all moving image data compression techniques. In 1992, in collaboration with another doctoral student, Carlo Tomasi, he devised a way to drastically cut down the calculations involved in the computer processing of 3D images. His contribution made it possible for the computers of the time to work with three-dimensional images.
The techniques proposed by Kanade are now built into autonomous cars and helicopters, drones and all robots equipped with visual capabilities. What’s more, in 2001, the Super Bowl final, the most watched program on American TV, featured a technological breakthrough that enabled 360-degree reproduction. This feat became the basis of “virtualized reality”, which makes it possible to obtain images of a scene independently of the cameras’ actual viewing angles, and has transformed sporting events by allowing viewers, for instance, to follow a football match from the ball’s point of view or use the hawk-eye in tennis.
Computer vision is also a core enabling technology for robotic surgery, a burgeoning field whose expansion owes much to the techniques invented by Kanade. Indeed it was Kanade himself who, together with his team, developed the first robotized system for hip replacement surgery, achieving much greater precision in the placement of the prosthesis with a far less invasive procedure than traditional surgery.