The Interview: Jayfus Doswell

Recently called one of the "rock stars who make things happen" by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, city technology leader Jayfus Doswell is a modern-day Renaissance man.

While his job focuses on developing cutting-edge technologies, Doswell also works to break ground for new businesses and research in Baltimore. On top of that, he is committed to helping young people from underprivileged backgrounds learn the skills that will allow them to succeed, too.

Doswell is founder, president and CEO of Juxtopia LLC, a Baltimore biomedical and information technology company founded in 2001 that specializes in human performance monitoring products and services.

Doswell, who studied computer science and cognitive neuropsychology at Oberlin College and holds a doctorate in information technology from George Mason University, recently sat down with The Baltimore Sun to share his thoughts on Juxtopia, the importance of giving back to the community and his family's long history in America.

Could you explain what Juxtopia does?

Our mission is to improve human performance with wearable technology such as our flagship product, wearable see-through display goggles. … [In] a scenario, a combat medic could be on the battlefield saving someone's life and get stuck on the life-saving procedure. While wearing the Juxtopia goggles, [the medic] can then voice retrieve step-by-step … information on providing casualty management care needed to save that injured soldier's life. For example, instructions on the see-through display would use a multimedia platform that projects animation, text, graphics, pictorial mnemonics or video assistance on performing that task correctly, i.e., accurately and with decreased time.

Is this being used now?

It is something that can be used today. We started working on the research in 2004, and at that time no one was working on a consumer-grade, wearable augmented-reality head display. Most of the work was being done for [the] military. We secured our grant from the National Science Foundation … and worked with Georgetown University to develop the product. Our recent delivery was to Tennessee State University.

They wanted to build upon our platform so they could provide on-demand instruction to electrical engineering students to … assemble a printed circuit board. So when students wear Juxtopia goggles, the virtual instructor provides step-by-step guidance without a human instructor.

How much would [the goggles] sell for?

Depends on the application, but they range from $5,000 to $9,000 for our target market. We are working with Johns Hopkins [to use] them as a real biomedical device. In that research project … we're working with pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to replace surgical loupes that surgeons typically wear. By replacing the loupes with the Juxtopia goggles, it would provide brain surgeons a surgical navigation interface, allowing them to magnify a computer image [seven times] and at the same time see other types of medical images on the same heads-up display such as a CAT scan … all through one monitor. The price point for those goggles [would be] $50,000 to $75,000.

Tell us about Juxtopia.org, the nonprofit.

At about the same time we created Juxtopia, we created the Juxtopia Group. … Instead of improving human performance overall, our focus is improving human learning performance for … underserved and disadvantaged populations … to increase the learning proficiency … [in] STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] instruction.

You were recently named one of the "rock stars who make things happen in Greater Baltimore" by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. What did you think of that?

I thought it was pretty cool. ... We've always been social entrepreneurs in our endeavors. We've seen in Baltimore a disparity in terms of economics, and we've taken the risk to get students motivated in high-tech types of areas: computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and so forth. I've tried to make an image of making these things pretty cool. I kind of think I'm a hip or cool CEO; I'm from Baltimore City public schools, third-generation Baltimore. … I go to historically black colleges and universities or to public high schools and get my engineers, train them to be better than I am … and then employ them [as staffers or interns] to work on great products where it's mutually beneficial for Juxtopia and their own careers. I think in that respect, Juxtopia being out front with that type of approach, that's how they were recognizing us as rock stars.

You can trace your ancestors back to Jamestown, Va. — your mother is a direct descendant of the first documented African-American child born in Jamestown, in 1624. How has this influenced your life?

It does have an impact [on] even how I think now, being one of the oldest families in America. … [I come] from a family of entrepreneurs on both sides. It's the sense that if they can do it, of course I can do it as well.

How about hobbies outside technology?

Violin, piano and martial arts. And I love going to the movies.

What's the future of the technology you're working on?

I see the augmented-reality goggles … having the capabilities of not just wearable see-through displays but also the ability to switch between augmented reality and virtual reality to facilitate human brain interactions. If you're thinking about something, you can see context where you are. So if you're walking down the street in Fells Point, historical references can then pop up on your screen relative to both your location and what you're thinking. I can see them in a variety of areas ranging from assisting construction workers perform tasks, medical first responders, combat medics, people playing sports — a wide range of applications to improve and augment a human's lifestyle from work to entertainment.

How many hours do you work in a day?

If I get up at 8 a.m. it's not uncommon for me to stay up to 2 a.m. I love what I do. The creativity I received from my earlier music days, the competitiveness I received from my tae kwon do days, the sense of community that my parents taught me based on my history and [their teaching] to give back — that's pretty much Juxtopia doing what Juxtopia is defined as: the juxtaposition among utopias perfecting mind, body and spirit, improving performance of others, even starting from within. That's what I do every single day. I live my company.

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