Mary Lou Jepsen’s plans for her new startup, Open Water, are quite ambitious. But if anyone can figure out a way to deliver powerful MRI technology via an affordable wearable device, it’s probably her. For over 20 years, Jepsen has been working on device displays and related technologies for some of the biggest names in tech.
In March 2015, Jepsen joined Facebook and Oculus—the virtual reality headset maker acquired by Mark Zuckerberg’s company in 2014 for $2 billion. She has served as the companies’ executive director of engineering, working on advanced consumer electronics and display design and manufacturing initiatives.
Before Facebook/Oculus, Jepsen spent three years as the head of the display division at Google X, the Internet giant’s in-house incubator of moonshot ideas. She worked on secret projects and reported to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
In 1995, she co-founded MicroDisplay Corp., a Richmond, CA-based company that created display technology for virtual reality, augmented reality, wearable devices, and flat-screen, high-definition television sets. She served as the company’s chief technology officer for eight years, according to her resume. During that period, she also had a stint as a senior technical staff member in Philips’ consumer electronics and research division.
In 2004, Jepsen served as the CTO of Intel’s display division, working on the technology and design of the company’s products used in HDTVs.
She later spent a couple years as a professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded the “Nomadic Displays Group” in part to try and solve the “awkwardness and usability of today’s devices,” according to her personal website.
Besides her work at Google and Facebook, Jepsen is perhaps best known for co-founding One Laptop per Child with MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte. The nonprofit has worked to produce inexpensive laptops for students in developing countries. Jepsen later created and led a spinoff company, Pixel Qi, to build a business around the laptop screen and power management technologies she invented and developed for One Laptop per Child.