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Young Academy Member "tipped to change the world"!

Young Academy Member Dr Per Ola Kristensson has been tipped as one of the young innovators most likely to “change the world.” The computer scientist is one of 35 top young innovators named by the prestigious MIT Technology Review.

For over a decade, the global media company has recognised a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to “transform the world.” Dr Kristensson joins a stellar list of technological talent; previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple; and David Karp, the creator of Tumblr.

Working in the School of Computer Science in St Andrews, Dr Kristensson uses machine learning, signal processing and language modelling to invent new text entry interfaces that enable people to rapidly input text into computer systems.

One example of his work is the gesture keyboard. The gesture keyboard enables users to quickly and accurately write text on mobile devices by sliding a single finger across the keys of a touchscreen keyboard. For example, to write the word “the” the user touches the T key, slides to the H key, slides to the E key, and then lifts up the finger. The result is a gesture that efficiently encodes the word “the” as a shorthand symbol. A gesture is then identified as a user’s intended word using a recognition algorithm.

Dr Kristensson’s ShapeWriter, Inc. iPhone app, ranked the 8th best app by Time Magazine in 2008, had a million downloads in the first few months.

This year’s honorees will be featured online at starting today, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 3. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference from October 9–11 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



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Andrew has over 15 years working with young children: as a teacher, academic, start-up director, and, more recently, parent. His research examines the role of interaction in cognition, and the implications for early learning and new forms of technology. He is also interested in computing education for children in the early years.

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