Bruce L. Davis ’79

Tech Savvy

Winter 2012

Bruce L. Davis ’79 wants people to spend less time fiddling with their phones and more time engaging with the things around them. As the head of Digimarc, a company specializing in digital watermarking technology, Davis hopes to facilitate that shift by advancing technologies that enable smartphones and tablet devices to be more efficient and interactive.

“A lot of the time you spend messing around with your mobile device is inefficient—you’re typing a lot of stuff,” says Davis. It doesn’t have to be that way, he adds. Davis points to Digimarc’s digital watermarking process, which is based on embedding a carrier signal into a photo or a document. For instance, smartphone users can scan Davis’ image to the right using the Digimarc Discover application and be linked directly to additional information online—and the process can be done without having to grapple with several tiny cell phone buttons.

Davis, who helped establish the intellectual property practice at the San Francisco office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe early in his career, has served as the CEO of Digimarc since 1997, but his work in the field of cutting-edge technology extends back several decades. In the 1980s, he helped Activision navigate the volatile video game industry as the company’s CEO and chairman. Thereafter, he went on to create TV Guide On Screen, an electronic program guide that was eventually acquired by Rovi Corporation.

At the moment, though, he could not be more excited about his most recent foray into the realm of technological innovation. “I’m fascinated with the notion that media objects can be given digital identities that allow them to be reliably and automatically identified by digital devices with cameras and microphones, giving mobile devices the capability to see and hear like people do,” says Davis.