Mary Lou Jepsen (born 1965) was the founding chief technology officer of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), an organization whose mission is to deliver low-cost, mesh-networked laptops en masse to children in developing countries. For her work in creating the laptop Time Magazine named her to its 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Her PhD work combined rigorous theoretical coupled-wave analysis with lab work, in which she created large-scale, embossed surface-relief diffraction gratings with liquid crystal-filled grooves with high diffraction efficiency in un-polarized illumination.
She has created some of the largest ambient displays ever. In Cologne, Germany she built a holographic replica of pre-existing buildings in the city's historic district...and created a holographic display encompassing a city block. She also conceived, built mathematical models of, resolved the fundamental engineering issues, and solved some of the logistics - to create what would have been the largest display ever for mankind: images displayed on the darkened moon. She co-created the first holographic video system in the world at the MIT Media Lab in 1989, where the interference structure of the hologram was computed at video rates, and shown on her hand-made display. This system inspired a new subfield of holographic video and received numerous awards.
In January 2005, Jepsen joined Nicholas Negroponte to lead the design, partnering, development and manufacture of the laptop, and for the entire first year of the effort was the only employee of One Laptop per Child [OLPC].
At OLPC, notably, Jepsen invented the laptop's sunlight-readable display technology and co-invented its ultra-low power management system - and - has transformed these inventions into high volume mass production rapidly. The XO laptop is the lowest cost laptop ever made, the lowest-power laptop ever made, and the most environmentally friendly laptop ever made. The laptop can sustain 5 foot drops, is mesh networked extending the reach of the network by letting signals hop from laptop to laptop.
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