Arogyaswami Paulraj was born in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, India. He joined the Indian Navy when he was only 15 and served for 30 years in the electrical engineering branch. After dedicating a significant portion of his career to electrical engineering, he became a respected expert in the field.
Shortly after joining the Navy, they realized his potential and sent him the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) to pursue a master’s degree. Based on his academic performance, his professors urged the Navy to allow him to continue his education, and he received a Ph.D. from the university.
During the brief Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Indian Navy lost a ship due to ineffective sonar technology. Motivated, Paulraj designed a new sonar that was integrated into the entire naval fleet. He continued to build on this success, creating the APSOH Sonar System.
He then founded three national labs in India, spanning artificial intelligence, computing and military electronics.
At the age of 47, giving up a successful career in India, he uprooted his entire life to move to the United States, joining Stanford University to pursue an academic path. His journey to the U.S. would lead to the development of his highly impactful MIMO technology.
At Stanford, Paulraj developed MIMO — Multiple Input, Multiple Output — a wireless technology that has revolutionized broadband wireless internet access for billions of people worldwide.
“I believe that being completely new to wireless technology gave me the edge to come up with MIMO. The field probably needed an outsider like me to make the simple, but revolutionary breakthrough,” he said.
Unlike prior technologies, MIMO uses multiple antennas at both the transmission and reception stations, enabling multiple data streams to be delivered, increasing speed. MIMO-based cellular wireless technology became the basis for WiMAX and LTE mobile networks!
Improving data transmission rates and expanding network coverage, MIMO is the foundation for all current Wi-Fi, 4G and future broadband wireless communications.
A 2018 Inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), Paulraj holds more than 80 patents for his work with sonar and communication technologies.
Today, Paulraj is a supporter of NIHF’s Camp Invention® program, visiting camps in his community and visiting in person, inspiring the next generation of innovation. He is also professor emeritus at Stanford University and has received the Marconi Prize and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Alexander Graham Bell Medal.