In a thousand different ways that you might never consider, innovation occurs every day here at Time Warner Cable. Go home, flip on your living room light switch and think for a second about the complex, inter-locking series of technologies required to make that work – from the switch itself, to the physical light-bulb, to the internal wiring of your home, to the vast system that creates and delivers electricity. Now imagine all the amazing innovations at work between you and a reliable, HD stream of House of Cards or a DVR marathon of True Detective.
We’re very proud of the folks here at Time Warner Cable who make that possible – from the field technicians who connect our customers and maintain our network, to the engineers who dream up the technology behind TWC products and services. At TWC, Kenneth Gould is one-such record-breaking inventor. He holds more than 30 patents for his innovative work on both high speed data and video products. His patented success – pun intended – is seconded only by our own Louis Williamson with a total of 18 patents held.
Gould’s title is “Senior Director of Video Control Planes,” a business card’s way of saying that Gould works to ensure that TWC video services are delivered reliably to subscribers and various enabled devices. For example, if you’re an HBO subscriber, Gould’s work is vital in making sure that you get both HBO at home and HBO Go on your iPad. He’s also TWC’s representative on the Technical Emmy committee, helping to select engineering projects worthy of receiving the prestigious award.
For Gould, innovation isn’t simply a process of sitting down and hoping for lightning to strike. It’s a matter of problem-solving, a constant process of discovering challenges and then exceeding them.
“The company places a huge emphasis on innovation,” Gould says. “Everyone here, engineer or not, is constantly trying to please customers and make their lives easier. We’re always thinking of the best way to get a job done. If we happen to come up with a unique, original way to make our customers’ lives easier, that’s the important thing. Patenting the solution is just a bonus.”
The invention Gould holds dearest is one that prevents the theft of TWC’s high-speed data services by hackers.
“Years ago,” he explains, “hackers were able to achieve much higher levels of service than they initially purchased, tricking the modem into thinking that it should perform at a much higher speed than the purchased service allowed. My co-inventor, Andrew Danforth, and I implemented a check between the cable modem and our provisioning system. Within minutes of implementing this, we could see messages going up on the forums saying, ‘What happened? My modem doesn’t work anymore!’”
Gould came to TWC after a long career at companies such as Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell and Verizon. Looking for a change both personally and professionally, he quit his job for a brief sojurn abroad in Tibet with his now wife. In 1999, he started at Roadrunner and continued up through the ranks at TWC for the last 15 years.
In addition to creating additional software to ensure modem security, Gould recently figured out a way to allow the Emergency Alert System to replicate on the TWC TV App across all IP devices. And more ideas are in the pipeline. Gould rolls several off the tongue in a rapid-fire display of what-if’s…
“Say you’re a video and voice customer, and you’re watching a movie on the DVR, or On Demand. How great would it be to make the movie pause automatically if your spouse called you at home? We’re also working to expand our commercial services – especially to hotels. What if your TWC subscription was tied to your hotel loyalty program? Then, if you were traveling on business, the system would know who you are and present your favorite channels in the same position that you remember them from at home?”
This kind of thoughtfulness is what attributes to Gould’s roughly 90 percent success rate for his patent applications.
“The hard part is not getting the patent itself, it’s waiting for years for it to be granted,” says Gould.
Thankfully, all the hard work doesn’t simply pay off at work, but also at home.
“My nine year old got a Lego robotics kit recently. He opened the box, immediately discarded the instructions, weaponized it, built a gun and shot his little sister. We had to have a talk about the importance of peaceful innovation after that,” Gould laughs. “But I am really happy and proud when I ask the kids what they are doing and they look at me, smile, and say. ‘Inventing!'”