Hugh Downs celebrates unveiling of memorabilia collection at ASU

December 19, 2014

Hugh Downs was overwhelmed when he was asked to lend his name to the communication school at Arizona State University in 1999.

“I about fell over,” Downs said, during a recent event that unveiled a collection of memorabilia at the school. “I have had so much satisfaction and gratitude being connected with ASU in this way.” Hugh Downs views memorabilia Download Full Image

Since those days, his involvement with the school has grown to include many facets of his career, in part reflecting the complexity of the school, which is dedicated to excellence in human communication, research, education and creative endeavors.

“Hugh Downs is an exemplar of the ways in which people who really understand communication create meaningful lives and careers for themselves,” said Linda Lederman, director of the school.

Hosting Downs at an event to showcase his generous donation of his memorabilia to the school presented an opportunity for faculty and staff to interact with the person for whom their school is named and to reaffirm their commitment to the field of communication, defined by the school as academic inquiry dedicated to the study of communication in everyday life.

Downs’ collection of approximately 300 items reflects his renowned broadcasting career, but his accomplishments and interests are as varied as hosting a game show, undergoing astronaut training and sailing across the ocean.

“Hugh understands communication in all aspects of life as a scientist, broadcaster and musician. In this way, he reflects the school’s vision to explore communication in everyday life, from families to work and from religion to culture,” Lederman said.

These interests and highlights from throughout his life are showcased through items such as a game based on the Chit Chat show that he hosted, a sextant that he used for navigation of his boat, Emmys from his long broadcasting career and honors that he has won throughout the years, such as the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation in 1991. On display is one of his books written about his long marriage to his wife, “Pure gold: A lifetime of love and marriage.”

Downs celebrated the unveiling of the collection with guests such as Lattie Coor, who was president of ASU when the school was named, and Bill Shover, formerly of the Arizona Republic, who asked Downs if he would lend his name to the school. He also offered words of wisdom to the crowd. One key to success he said is to always have a “plan B” in your back pocket, in case something doesn’t pan out.

“If you can be flexible about how you go into something, that’s good,” he said.

That spirit of flexibility was demonstrated in a class that Downs taught for communication post-graduate students a few years ago that ended in the wee hours of the morning.

“One of the most gratifying things I was ever involved in was a course a few years ago that started at 7 p.m. The audience was a bunch of post-graduates working on their PhDs. It started at 7 and ended at 1:30 a.m.,” he said.

Those students benefited from Downs’ insight through the years, much as the school has benefited through his participation and dedication to the field of communications.

Working to make mobile payment more secure

December 19, 2014

Consumers are well aware of several recent security breaches regarding the credit and debit cards they use on a daily basis: Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and more.

Gail-Joon Ahn, an Arizona State University engineering professor, is working on tools that will make transactions more secure and allow individuals to control the privacy of their information. In 2014 he was issued five new patents for that technology and eight more patents are pending related to secure mobile payment. working to make mobile payment more secure Download Full Image

Ahn is a Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“When you disclose your identity, you disclose all kinds of information,” Ahn said. “Your ID, your username, your credit card number, driver’s license number and all kinds of other personal attributes.

“You’ve given that information to the bank, but once disclosed, you don’t know how it’s being used or have any ability to control it.”

Through the technology Ahn is designing, an individual would give the information to the bank and, when he or she wanted to purchase something, the retailer would send an invoice that would be routed to the bank and paid, without the buyer giving any information to the retailer.

The individual also would be able to set privacy parameters on their cards, say allowing one-time use only, or no release of specific types of information, like their address.

“ID theft is the biggest problem retailers have,” Ahn said. “Studies show they are losing $3 billion per year in ID theft. And the loss to their reputations is priceless.”

Through Ahn’s technology, the retailer wouldn’t have any of the information, reducing the potential for it being stolen.

“We’re used to the way we’ve done it in the past,” Ahn said. “For example, my son rents a musical instrument, and we’re charged for it each month. The company keeps my charge card on file and reuses it each month.

“I trust them. That’s the normal practice, and it’s convenient for them and for me.”

We’re even using credit cards in parking meters, and when those meters are upgraded and the old ones sold, our information goes with them, Ahn said.

Because of security issues, we should be using new payment technology, Ahn said.

You go to Starbucks and order coffee. You give them your order and their invoice would be routed to your bank, which ships the payment to Starbucks. Starbucks would never have the number of your credit card.

Ahn said his team is currently testing a demo of the technology. Their competitors: Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

“People realize how important it is to protect their identity and information,” Ahn said.

Written by Judy Nichols

Sharon Keeler