2011 Winner of the ABIE Award for Innovation
Mary Lou Jepsen is CEO of Pixel Qi. Jepsen is honored for her technical successes in innovative design of computer displays and her impact on the accessibility of digital technology through her work with One Laptop Per Child.
Mary Lou Jepsen received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (with honors) and completed all the requirements for a Bachelor of Art degree in Art from Brown University, a Master’s Degree in Visual Studies from the Media Lab at MIT, and a Ph.D. from Brown University in Optical Science. Her multi-disciplinary background in science and art laid a foundation for her early career work designing holograms with a fellowship to the University of California San Diego in Holography and Optical Computing as well as at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. She went on to become the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for MicroDisplay Corporation. During her tenure MicroDisplay filed 70 patents relating to liquid crystal on silicon. She then became CTO of Intel’s Consumer Electronics Group, Display Division.
In 2005, she co-founded One Laptop Per Child with Nicholas Negroponte. As CTO she undertook the goal of building a $100 laptop. To reach that goal required rethinking many parts of the machine, especially the display and the power supply to run it. Existing displays would have exceeded the price limit, so Jepsen designed a new display panel that is both power efficient and treats monochrome light differently from color; it allows the screen to be read in full sunlight. She worked with vendors to solve the pragmatic challenges of manufacturing, and she took on the architect role leading to a coordinated hardware and software development process.
During her time at One Laptop Per Child, over 2.5 million laptops were shipped to children around the world. Mary Lou Jepsen went on to found Pixel Qi, which focuses on the screen as the essential interface between the user and digital technology. Pixel Qi is a fabless ASIC company that specializes in screens. It is addressing both the display itself and the power needed to run the display, and is being manufactured within existing processes, facilities, and at high volume with excellent pricing, quality and reliability. The One Laptop Per Child XO machine will use these displays, as will other e-readers. Pixel Qi is building displays that exemplify green electronics.
Mary Lou Jepsen has received numerous honors. She was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008, one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology in 2009, and has been inducted to the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. She has received numerous awards for the XO and her work with One Laptop Per Child, including the Horace Mann Award from Brown University, Popular Science Best of What’s New Award for the XO, and the INDEX Award. The $100 laptop is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Mary Lou Jespsen was also the Keynote Speaker at the 2016 Women of Vision ABIE Awards Banquet.