Humboldt research awardee wants to push the boundaries of photography

His research ensures that TVs consume less energy but still display the play of light in a realistic way. Photographers are using his results to advance the boundaries of photography. By his aid, physicians can use computer tomography screens to detect bone fractures and tumors faster than before. In April, Professor Wolfgang Heidrich was honored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his work. The award comes along with a prize of 60,000€ and a research stay in Germany. Heidrich chose the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics and the Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”, both located on campus at Saarland University in Germany.

Heidrich qualifies as a pioneer within the research area “Computational Photography and Displays”, in which researchers are trying to push the boundaries of photography with the aid of computers and software. For example, Heidrich developed a computing method that makes it possible to display high-contrast images on monitor screens as humans would perceive them in reality. “Using this technology, one can, for the first time, give a realistic impression of real-world environments,” explains Heidrich, “for example, if you are driving at night and you get dazzled by oncoming headlights.” Another one of his algorithms, which also improves images displayed on screens, was implemented in home TVs a few years ago. With “local dimming”, computing methods display the depicted image at the same brightness, but use less background lighting and thus save significant energy. Currently, Heidrich is working on novel 3D screens.
To delve into research on 3D screens, Heidrich will work this September at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and at the close-by Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”. Moreover, he will collaborate with the research group “Agents and Simulated Reality”, which is led by Professor Philipp Slusallek at the nearby German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).
Professor Wolfgang Heidrich was a full professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada; since this year, he is Director at the Visual Computing Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Now he also numbers among the internationally prestigious researchers who are working abroad and who have been honored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for their work. The Humboldt research award not only includes 60,000 Euros of prize money, it also admits the researcher to the Humboldt network; the costs for his research stay are also covered by the foundation. Heidrich decided to do his research stay at Saarland University in Germany. As he justifies his decision: “Saarbrücken computer science is a stronghold of computer science research, not only within my field of research. Furthermore, the localization of possible collaboration partners on campus is exceptional in Germany.”
Background information about computer science research at Saarland University
The Department of Computer Science represents the center of computer science research in Saarbrücken, Germany. Seven other internationally renowned research institutes are nearby: The Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and for Software Systems, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Center for Bioinformatics, the Intel Visual Computing Institute, the Center for IT Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA), and the Cluster of Excellence “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”.
A portrait photo of Wolfgang Heidrich can be downloaded from
Further information:
Press requests: 
Dr. Wolfgang Heidrich 

newsarchive >>