Scientist’s Notebook: Brian Hone and Pushing Technology

Behind the Scenes

Scientist’s Notebook

What’s it like working for a company that’s pushing technology to a whole new level? It can be fun. It can be frustrating. And it can be full of unexpected lessons, says Brian Hone, who works at E Ink in Cambridge, Mass.
Brian Hone taking notes on ordinary paper.
E. Sohn

Brian is a programmer. He writes instructions that tell electronic-ink particles what to do. He also gets to bring brand-new versions of products to meetings and exhibitions, where he presents them to the public.

“Being the demo guy is cool,” Brian says. “Everyone else does all the hard work, but you’re the first person to make the images come up.” You get to see how excited people are when they look at electronic ink and paper for the first time, he says.

Of course, Brian works hard, too. E Ink is a small company. Just 65 people work there, and the work is very collaborative. “We’re a tight little team,” he says.

I don’t always understand Brian when he talks about the details of his work. “What’s an oscilloscope?” I might ask. But I can tell how excited he feels to be part of something new. “We are continually pushing the . . . technology to the next step,” he says.

One of the most important lessons he has learned in his time at E Ink is patience. “I’m learning that making something look good once is so much easier than making a product,” Brian says.

Creating a product takes a lot of hard work and a long time. There are lots of discouraging moments. “Absolutely the hardest part is keeping morale up while you’re trying to get a product to market,” Brian says.

Luckily for us, there are plenty of people like Brian who are willing to do whatever it takes to make new technologies come alive.—E. Sohn

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