Walter de Brouwer

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Walter de Brouwer, Starlab cofounder, semiotician, entrepreneur
Starlab Front Seal.jpg
Deep Future
Life meets Trek: Walter De Brouwer at TEDxSanJose 2012
Starlab Discovery Channel Special

Walter De Brouwer is a Belgian Internet and technology entrepreneur and semiotician who cofounded multidisciplinary, “Deep Future” blue sky research institute Starlab. He is cofounder and CEO of and former CEO of Scanadu, a remote medical diagnostic device company in Mountain View, California.

De Brouwer was born in Aalst, Belgium, earning a Masters in linguistics from the University of Ghent and a PhD in Semiotics from Tilburg University. He was a lecturer at the University of Antwerp (UFSIA) and adjunct professor at the International University of Monaco from 2001-2004.

He is an Entrepreneur in Residence with the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge since 2004;[1] he sits on the editorial advisory board of the Journal for Chinese Entrepreneurship[2] and is a member of the American Mathematical Society and serves as a board director of the Tau Zero Foundation.[3]

De Brouwer published personal computer magazines starting in 1990 under the company name Riverland Publications, which was sold to VNU in 1994.[4][5] In 2008, De Brouwer set up OLPC Europe, the European branch of One Laptop per Child.[6][7][8]

Research labs

In 1996, De Brouwer founded Starlab together with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte.[9][10][11]

Starlab was a multidisciplinary, blue sky research institute established to serve as an incubator for long-term and basic research in the spirit of Bell Labs, MIT Media Lab, Xerox PARC, and Interval Research. The lab specialized in “Deep Future” blue skies research, [12][13] and coordinated its research activities under the acronym BANG—Bits, Atoms, Neurons and Genes—a system later adopted by MIT in 2002.

Starlab produced multiple patents in intelligent clothing,[14] working on research areas such as artificial intelligence, biophysics, consciousness, DNA databases, genetics, materials science, microtubules, nanoelectronics, neuroscience, new media, protein folding, robotics, stem cell research, theoretical physics—e.g., the possibility of time travel—quantum computation and secure communications, quantum teleportation and wearable computing.[15]

Starlab's business model depended largely upon third-party investment to sustain its operations. When the dot-com bubble burst, the loss of a critical group of investors forced the lab to close its doors in 2001.[16][17]

Starlab was frequently cited by the international press, become subject of a theatre play at the Edinburgh Festival, a Gartner case study, and has spawned alumni forums on Facebook and Yahoo!Groups. Media coverage included such comparisons as as the "lab of last resort” (CNN);[18] attracting “the world’s brainiest nerds."[19] as “Nerd Heaven” (Discovery Channel).[20]

De Brouwer serves as a director of the board with the Tau Zero Foundation,[21] successor to the NASA Wikipedia-favicon.png Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program on Wikipedia. The organization published The Frontiers of Propulsion[22][23] as a comprehensive summary of its research developments under NASA support. In April 2017, NASA awarded the organization a $500,000 grant for the study of breakthrough propulsion programs under a proposal entitled Interstellar Propulsion Review.[24][25]

Driven by a lack of advanced diagnostic technology in the medical profession in an experience which affected his son, De Brouwer co-founded, a company focused on decentralizing precision medicine with artificial intelligence. The company completed a successful ICO in the summer of 2017, and is expected to launch its first product in Spring 2018.


De Brouwer is former co-founder and the CEO of Scanadu, a company located at the NASA Ames Research Park in California. Scanadu is developing consumer health diagnostic devices such as the Scanadu Scout, designed to measure various physiological parameters that include temperature, heart rate, blood oxygenation, respiratory rate, ECG, and diastolic/systolic blood pressure;[26][27] and Scanaflo, an at-home, full-panel urinalysis testing device designed to give consumers immediate information about their liver health, urinary tract infections, and other vitals.[28]

De Brouwer transitioned from Scanadu CEO in April 2016[29] to became the CEO and co-founder of artificial intelligence start-up[30]

Other activities

De Brouwer is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and served as President of RSA Europe from 2006 to 2008.[31] He is a member of TED and curator of TEDxBrussels and is a sponsor of Quantified Self Labs.[32] He was a distinguished lecturer at the National Science Foundation in 2013.[33]

De Brouwer is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and served as President of RSA Europe from 2006 to 2008. He is a member of TED and curator of TEDxBrussels and is a sponsor of Quantified Self Labs. He was a distinguished lecturer at the National Science Foundation in 2013.

See also

External links


  1. Entrepreneurs in Residence
  2. Journal for Chinese Entrepreneurship
  3. Lifeboat Foundation Bios: Walter de Brouwer
  4. Wave, the Belgian cyberpunk mag
  5. Belgium: Major Manufacturers Directory. Business Information Agency, ISBN|978-1-4187-8348-8
  6. Fildes, Jonathan (December 23, 2009). OLPC Unveils slimline tablet PC. BBC News
  7. Hartley, Adam (May 1, 2010). How OLPC plans to give 30 million kids in Africa a laptop by 2015. TechRadar
  8. Curtis, Sophie (January 11, 2010). Poor Families to get Government Laptops. eWeek Europe
  9. Kalia, Kirin (August 9, 2000). Belgium: Europe's Overlooked Diamond-in-the-Rough (Part II). Silicon Alley Daily
  10. Lane, Frederick S. (2003) The naked employee: how technology is compromising workplace privacy, p. 54. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, ISBN 978-0-8144-7149-4
  11. Bilefsky, Dan (April 2, 2001). Where the deep future is familiar territory The Financial Times
  12. Geary, James (November 22, 2000). The Web site that wants your spit. CNN
  13. Discovery Channel (September 2000). StarLab segment
  14. Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity, and Deathliness’, C. Evans, pg. 276
  15. D'Amico, Mary Lisbeth (July 2, 2001). Tornado Insider: Lights Out at Starlab Tornado Insider
  16. Giles, Jim (2001). Utopian dream in tatters as Starlab falls to earth. In D. Butler, Ed. Nature Yearbook of Science and Technology, p. 412 Palgrave Macmillan (2002) ISBN 978-0-333-97147-5
  17. Casonato, Regina; Jones, Nick (2002) How will enterprises achieve a return on investment in knowledge management? Gartner, Inc.
  18. University of Cambridge Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning
  19. Internet Archive Wayback Machine
  20. Starlab Discovery Channel Special
  21. Lifeboat Foundation Bios: Dr. Walter De Brouwer
  22. Frontiers of Propulsion Science by Marc G. Millis and Eric W. Davis
  23. Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics: Frontiers of Propulsion Science
  24. NASA Awards Grant to Tau Zero Foundation
  25. NASA Grant Awarded to Tau Zero Interstellar Foundation
  26. Scanadu finalizes Scout tricorder design, wants user feedback to help it get FDA approval
  27. How the Scanadu SCOUT Works
  28. Scanaflo brings hospital-quality urinalysis to your home
  29. Scanadu Announcement
  30. launches blockchain-based conversational AI platform for health consumers
  31. Chairman of RSA Europe Fellowship
  32. Quantified Self
  33. Dr. Walter De Brouwer of Scanadu Visits IIP