CEO Profile: Tim Huckaby, InterknowlogyOctober 26, 2016
InterKnowlogy–Carlsbad tech leader with global, national and local impact
When Tim Huckaby, Executive Chairman and Founder of Carlsbad-based tech company InterKnowlogy, describes a typical day, the Pacific Ocean is often involved.
“My wife and I frequently drive out to the bluffs overlooking the ocean with beach chairs and glasses of wine to see the sunsets,” he describes. “Just the other day we enjoyed the most amazing sunset as we watched whales and dolphins swim by. On a recent morning, we had cups of coffee on the bluffs while watching surfers and the ocean below.”
This combination of outdoor life, from sunrise to sunset, is common for those that live and work in Carlsbad, California.
A charismatic and visionary technology leader, Huckaby, spent his early career with the Pacific passing beneath his weekly San Diego-Seattle commute to work at Microsoft’s Redmond, WA campus. He devoted 18 to 20 hour days building Microsoft Internet capabilities into their server platform and leading keynote presentations on stage alongside Microsoft executives, including Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
In 1999, Huckaby launched InterKnowlogy, headquartered in Carlsbad, which has become a leader in Natural User Interface (NUI) technology, described by Huckaby as “touching, waving at, or speaking” to the tech.
InterKnowlogy develops custom software for companies all over the world including much of the Fortune 1,000. Its client list spans NASA to Nike, ABC to NBC, the US Library of Congress and CNN for its famous “Magic Wall” that delivers election data via a seamless large touch screen relied upon by the network’s political expert, John King.
“We have built software in every industry,” describes Huckaby, whose clients are as large as multi-billion dollar businesses and as unique as software that integrates 3D Cameras like the Microsoft Kinect and Holographic experiences.
And with 2016 serving as an outstanding year for national public engagement in US election activity, InterKnowlogy plays a significant role in Big Data and data visualization that will be seen all over the world on broadcast TV. The US elections are a critical area for recent ground-breaking InterKnowlogy projects. As Huckaby describes ongoing CNN work for the presidential election in November, he has the younger generation in mind. “This information is really helping people to understand our election process, especially millennials who are experiencing the democratic process up front for the first time and seeing how it really works, from the local caucuses to the national race,” he says.
Earlier this year, InterKnowlogy built a voting app for the Iowa Caucus, which marked the first time in US history that caucus ballots were cast on digital devices like phones and tablets. As Huckaby explains, “many of our nation’s youth are learning about the democratic process up close for the first time.”
As InterKnowlogy continues to lead NUI solutions, there are exciting opportunities ahead for national and global business, political and social processes to continue to evolve through innovative technologies.
The company, which receives the bulk of its unique projects and clients by referral, is on track to “grow to the work demand as the technology industry continues to move toward more natural experiences for mobile and large form factor devices,” says Huckaby.
“The iPad paved the way for touchscreen interactions and we will soon see gesture interfaces increase with 3D cameras. We can do demographics profiling and facial recognition with speed and scale. Digital natives are moving to more natural digital experiences, leaving a screen and keyboard interface for the evolved solutions we create that rely on touch, speech recognition, gesture and more natural interfaces,” he says.
As Huckaby describes how Moore’s Law might slow down, his descriptions of InterKnowlogy projects speed up with excitement at what the future holds. Tools like augmented and virtual reality and holographic experiences are promising for his engineering team who are experts in Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Huckaby references the saying “people have to see it to believe it” as he explains the vast amount of data that is increasingly available for the public to visualize and interact with in novel and engaging ways. “This will transform our society,” he says.
As a Business and Computer Science student learning computer programming at the University of San Diego (USD) in the early 1980s, Huckaby could not have imagined the massive amounts of data available to visualize through the interactive programs InterKnowlogy is creating today. His foundation in computer programming began at USD, but flourished writing COBOL at EDS after college, ultimately followed by his work on a number of server products at Microsoft, including the company’s first real web server.
Huckaby’s move to Carlsbad took place in those early career years of commuting to Washington and working endless hours at Microsoft. In fact, he hardly noticed the move! It was his wife Kelly that announced she had sold their house in Cardiff by the Sea and was moving them to Carlsbad, seeking a family-friendly community and outstanding school system.
Huckaby and the InterKnowlogy team have watched the City of Carlsbad transform into a booming tech and biotech industry community. Huckaby recalls Faraday Avenue as a “ghost town” when he leased their original office space compared to the activity today. One thing that stood out right away in those early days of touring commercial space throughout San Diego County was that Carlsbad requires a shower facility in all Class A commercial buildings. “It’s not like that in other cities. Not all of them have requirements that really create that life/work balance,” describes Huckaby. “The office building shower amenities and proximity to the ocean meant that my team could surf, shower and get back to work on any given day. It was a great perk for my engineers!”
Outdoor sports are also a way of life for Huckaby’s family. He and his wife enjoy an active life mountain biking, trail running, and kayaking. “We are familiar with every inch of Calavera Hills, trail running and mountain biking, as with Agua Hedionda Lagoon, often taking the kayaks out in the bay.”
Huckaby also has a love for fly fishing and “catching Corbina in the surf and releasing them.” While describing his passion for the sport, he adds, without hesitation, that “Carlsbad really has the nicest beaches in California, bar none.”
Huckaby recalls the migration of many of his company’s engineers who were initially commuting from San Diego up to Carlsbad, and who started moving their families to Carlsbad. He describes, “Eventually we got to a point where we asked, ‘why would we move our office anywhere else?’ Employees started moving with their families to Carlsbad, and we’ve never considered operating anywhere else.”
As the InterKnowlogy team established family roots in this coastal city, enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and environmental benefits, they also embraced a commitment to become involved in Carlsbad’s local schools and community causes.
“We love the Carlsbad community structure and our friends and neighbors, and this is just a small way that we show our gratitude and give back,” says Huckaby, whose wife still volunteers at the Kelly School Kindergarten despite their two kids having graduated years ago from Carlsbad High.
In the past few years, the company has increased their community service activities. Huckaby serves on local boards and committees for the City of Carlsbad. Members of the InterKnowlogy team instituted a semiannual company-wide Day of Giving where the entire company goes out into community to volunteer their time for activities like painting homes and contributing to charity food groups.
InterKnowlogy has also supported Carlsbad High School TV (CHSTV) for a decade and is proud of the broadcasting program’s national awards under its director Doug Green, who is the 2015 California teacher of the year and led Huckaby’s son both at Valley Middle School and Carlsbad High.
The company is not only leading important changes on a global and national scale with its innovations in NUI technologies but is impacting the local Carlsbad community that has served as its foundation for tremendous growth and a “Life in Action.”