Amazon’s Bezos spends hours in computer science labs, checking in on the future

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos watches a demonstration of a spirometer that works in conjunction with an iPhone app to accurately measure lung capacity, part of a UW computer science project. (Photo courtesy UW CSE.)

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos spent several hours at the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering department before the holiday break — getting demos of the latest projects, and talking with students and professors about the future of technology.

Check out this gallery of photos from the visit.

Bezos is the latest in a series of recent visitors to the UW department, including Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen. The Amazon CEO, who majored in computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, impressed his UW hosts as particularly sharp and current when it came to both hardware and software — which makes sense, given Amazon’s broader push into computing with the Kindle Fire tablet.

Oftentimes as students started describing their projects, Bezos would jump right to the technical details, said UW professor Shwetak Patel, the MacArthur Genius Award winner whose students gave Bezos a tour of their ubiquitous computing lab. Frequently Bezos was correct in his initial assumptions about the projects and how the students were approaching the technical challenges, Patel said.

Patel said it became clear that Bezos spends a lot of time with Amazon’s engineers. ”He has wide knowledge of hardware and software, and he asked a lot of great questions,” he said.

The UW CSE news page has more details from the visit.

  • Guest

    I’m betting that Ballmer rarely goes there. Maybe that’s one reason Amazon has been so successfull in new technology related areas?