Getting to 100 Before 50; Xerox Scientist Bob Loce Reaches Patent Milestone
ROCHESTER, N.Y., -- When Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) imaging scientist Bob Loce reaches his 50th birthday in October, he’ll be celebrating more than one milestone. This summer he also received his 100th U.S. utility patent, a rare achievement that puts him among the ranks of Xerox’s most inventive scientists.
His 100th patent, No. 7,227,779, is entitled “Method of Selective Edge Softening and Rendering for the Suppression of Halo.” It is part of a rich portfolio of intellectual property that attests to his expertise in digital imaging as well as conventional and digital optics. A principal scientist in the Xerox Research Center Webster, Loce has been with Xerox since 1981, when he joined the company as a lab technician and not long after applied for his first patent.
“Among Bob’s many contributions are inventions that provided a foundation for Xerox’s transition from light lens technology to products based on laser imaging, inventions that made highlight color printing possible, and more recently, inventions covering image processing technology used in the Xerox iGen3™ Digital Production Press and the Xerox Nuvera™ digital printers,” said Sophie Vandebroek, chief technology officer and president of the Xerox Innovation Group. “In addition to his own inventions, he has mentored many other researchers, helping to sustain our culture of innovation in the Xerox labs.”
Loce’s current work involves development of image processing methods for color electronic printing. He has publications and many patents in the areas of halftoning, digital image rendering, optics, imaging systems, and digital image enhancement. Many patents resulted from work done with teams drawn from various disciplines such as physics, electronics and digital imaging. “You need a team with a diverse collection of skills for the bigger, more important ideas,” he said.
A long-time volunteer in the , which presents science lessons in grade school classrooms in Rochester, Loce not only teaches, but also learns from the students in those sessions. “I love the things they tell me. I want to think the way they do, free from the limitations that age and experience place on us. How can I maintain that kind of boundless thinking?”
In truth, he says, inventing while sitting at a desk is tough. So to spark original or “wacky” ideas, Loce keeps objects like an array lens made with glass bubbles, interesting looking rocks, very large lenses and holograms in his bottom drawer to pull out and examine when he is stumped. And he finds he has fresher ideas during or after a mountain-climbing vacation.
Also he believes failure is an important part of the invention process. “Unless you are failing 10 to 20 percent of the time, you are probably being too conservative in generating ideas and inventing new technologies. You’ve got to step over the line sometimes,” Loce said.
A Rochester native, Loce grew up wanting to be a farmer or a scientist; he recalls learning to milk a cow on his grandfather’s farm, property that later became the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in suburban Henrietta. In an ironic turn, Loce received the first doctoral degree RIT granted in 1993; his was also the world’s first Ph.D. in imaging science, and his thesis on enhancement and restoration of digital documents was published as a book.
He had joined Xerox twelve years earlier, after receiving an associates degree in optical engineering technology from Monroe Community College. While working in the company’s labs, Loce completed a bachelor of science degree in photographic science from RIT, a master of science degree in optical engineering from the University of Rochester, and his doctorate. Working in both the industrial and academic worlds simultaneously enabled him to apply what he was learning immediately.
Loce also finds satisfaction working with the company’s intellectual property experts, and so he took and passed the U.S. patent bar exam in 2002, making him a registered patent agent. Now having met his goal of 100 patents before he reached 50, he has set a new objective: 200 before he retires. And he is well on his way, with about 40 more patent applications in the pipeline. For more information about innovation at Xerox, visit www.xerox.com/innovation.
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