Professor Kristian Hammond was named Technologist of the Year at the Illinois Technology Association’s CityLIGHTS Awards on Sept. 18.
Hammond, professor of computer science, codirects the Intelligent Information Laboratory and co-founded Narrative Science, a Northwestern startup that turns raw data into natural language narratives.
The ITA CityLIGHTS Awards brings together companies, legislators, investors, and policymakers to honor and support the growth and success of the technology community in Chicago and Illinois.
Hammond was one of five finalists for the Technologist of the Year award, which was presented to the individual whose talent has championed true technology innovation, either through new applications of existing technology or the development of technology to achieve a truly unique product or service. Awardees were determined based on nominations from the community, a selection of finalists by a judging committee, and voting by the public at large.
Narrative Science, which Hammond co-founded with fellow computer science professor Larry Birnbaum, blends artificial intelligence with journalism to change how organizations understand their data. Their marquee product, Quill, uses computer algorithms to extract the most important information from a data source and craft a story around it using natural language.
With Quill, large segments of data that previously required hours of analysis to interpret can now be presented as easy-to-scan, understandable narrative reports. Since its inception, the software has written millions of stories, from post-game recaps based upon sporting event box scores to corporate quarterly earnings summaries drawn from unwieldy spreadsheets.
Most recently the company has released Quill Connect, which produces personalized reports of a user’s entire Twitter history, and Quill Engage, an application that translates Google Analytics data into narrative reports.