Kees Schouhamer ImminkCelebrating the 2017 IEEE Honors Ceremony Award Recipients

27 April 2017 - The achievements of IEEE Life Fellow Kees Schouhamer Immink will be recognized with the IEEE Medal of Honor during the IEEE Honors Ceremony on 25 May 2017 at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA, USA. The event will be streamed live by beginning at 7:00 p.m. PT (1900 UTC-04).

Regarded as the most prolific contributor to the world’s consumer electronics of the late 20th century, Kees Schouhamer Immink fueled the “big bang” of digital electronics with pioneering coding techniques that have provided the foundation for all generations of optical storage media, from the compact disc (CD) to the Blu-ray disc (BD). A multitalented pioneer in technical areas ranging from coding theory and practice to electronics, mechanics, and optics, Immink has inspired generations of theorists and engineers and has made a lasting impact on how we handle data. Immink established the area of constrained codes as an important subfield of information and coding theory, and his myriad of practical coding constructions have accelerated the development of digital data storage technology. Immink’s eight-to-fourteen modulation (EFM) technique for digital recordings improved playing time and was more robust to dust, fingerprints, and disc damage such as scratches, leading to the creation of the CD. The introduction of the CD in 1982 marked the beginning of the change from analog to digital sound technology. It quickly revived a sluggish music industry and essentially replaced the traditional music delivery methods of vinyl records and cassette tapes. This optical storage technology also provided low-cost, high-capacity, flexible data storage exceeding what computer hard drives could accommodate at that time.

Building on his EFM technology, Immink developed an advanced channel coding method called EFMPlus, which was integral to the design of the digital versatile disc (DVD). Offering higher storage capacity than the CD, but at the same dimensions, the DVD is able to store any kind of digital data from computer software to video programs. Upon its introduction in 1995, the DVD became the fastest adopted consumer electronics product and generated billions of dollars for the film industry. While the DVD was quickly replacing traditional video cassettes, Immink was already working on further advancements to his original inventions by developing an even higher-density optical disc format. This work evolved into the BD, which can handle high-definition content suitable for feature films and video games.

Immink was also among the first engineers to conduct experiments with optical recordable and erasable media, bringing the mini disc, CD-R, DVD-R, and BD-R formats into the homes of consumers. He also added to realizing broadcast-quality recording products for consumers with his contributions to the digital video camcorder.

With approximately 500 billion CDs, DVDs, and BDs estimated to be in use today, Immink’s inventions have impacted people all over the world. As recognition of Immink’s role in the digital media revolution, his honors include an Emmy award from the US National Academy of Arts and Sciences, induction into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, and knighthood by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. An IEEE Life Fellow, foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and recipient of the 1999 IEEE Edison Medal, Immink is president of Turing Machines, Inc., Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Additionally, two other special recognitions will be awarded at this year's IEEE Honors Ceremony:

The IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award will be presented to Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. This award is presented to the technology having the most promising potential to provide the greatest overall benefit to humankind. ITT-M’s micro grids can serve as the sole source of electricity to homes not connected to the grid. And they can serve as a backup power supply to homes connected to it, to let lighting and essential appliances continue operating even during brownouts. In India, micro grids are expected to evolve rapidly.

The IEEE Spectrum Emerging Technology Award will be presented to SpaceX. This award is presented to the technology that has the most promising potential to provide the greatest financial return from broad commercial application. SpaceX has achieved a milestone in space flight by creating and demonstrating a suite of technologies capable of returning a rocket-booster safely to Earth. These technologies promise to reduce the cost of getting to Earth’s orbit by enabling the rapid reuse of space launch vehicles.

A total of 23 technology giants (PDF, 159 KB) will be recognized for their accomplishments in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.

Read about the IEEE Medal of Honor recipient, Kees Schouhamer Immink