Hidden Figures: An NJIT 'Data Hiding' Expert is Named to the National Academy of Inventors

Written by: Tracey Regan,

Yun-Qing Shi, a groundbreaking computer engineer best known for devising methods to hide and retrieve data embedded in digitized images and speech, has been named a 2017 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

“Data hiding” techniques are used to protect and verify intellectual property such as photos that have been digitally “watermarked” and can be accessed only by unlocking the encrypted information within the image, to name one widely known application. More recently, Shi has developed methods for returning these images to their untampered form after the embedded data have been removed.

Data hiding is also used by organizations seeking to communicate secretly.

The data hiding process links two sets of data, a set of the embedded data and another set of the cover media data, while the relationship between the two sets of data differs depending on the application. In covert communications, the hidden data are irrelevant to the cover media. In authentication, however, they are closely related.

“Good and bad people send images with hidden information,” notes Shi, who adds that data can be secretly embedded inside voice signals as well as images.

Shi is also an expert at determining whether digital information, including speech, has been altered.

“We want to be able to detect changes, and it’s important to understand how people manipulate this data,” he says. “As our society increasingly goes digital, whether images and speech are trustable becomes more and more important.”

Shi was named an IEEE Fellow in 2005 for his contributions to multidimensional signal processing. He has been issued 30 patents for his inventions.

He is among 155 renowned academic inventors designated as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors this year, who together are named on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents. They join the nearly 760 fellows, representing over 250 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes, inducted over the past several years.

Shi will be inducted into the National Academy next April at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Andrew Hirshfeld, commissioner for patents for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be the keynote speaker.