Lippold Haken was born in Munich, West Germany on April 12 1961 – the day the first human was launched into space. Soon after Yuri Gagarin made his flight, his father was offered a job as a mathematician at the University of Illinois; Americans were trying to hire more German scientists than the Russians were hiring. His father never contributed to the space race directly, but worked at the University of Illinois as a Math professor and proved the Four Color Theorem with Ken Appel.
Lippold received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering under Don Bitzer in 1989 from the University of Illinois. He lives in Champaign, Illinois with his wife and four kids, down the street from his parents. He teachs in the University of Illinois ECE department in Urbana-Champaign. His favorite class to teach is ECE402, an electronic music class for ECE seniors and graduate students. He also teaches labs, and want to nurture ECE student pride in their ability to design and build working devices. Together with another professor he started what is now our department’s largest class, ECE110, in the 1990s. His research has been in real-time computer music systems, music notation and representation, music technology for the blind, and analysis/synthesis/processing of musical sounds.
Lippold started working on the Continuum Fingerboard in the early 1980s when he was a student at the University of Illinois. He tried many different designs and many different finger detection technologies. It is challenging to polyphonically track the small finger movements involved in expressive playing, and at the same time have a good surface feel. For the last 20 years he has had a design that is similar to the current Continuum, and has been making many small mechanical improvements, including improvements to the finger tracking algorithms.
The last decade has been especially exciting; he has been working with Edmund Eagan to develop built-in sounds that are specifically designed for the Continuum’s three-dimensional playing surface.