About Rich Helms

Rich Helms

Rich Helms is a seasoned software developer with over 35 years of experience in computer Research and Development (R&D). He spent 22 years in various positions at IBM and two years as the Vice President of R&D for Electronics Workbench in Toronto. From 2000 to 2009, Rich created and owned Rume Interactive Canada, which was sold to Verisk in 2009 and rebranded as Enabl-u Technologies and then Verisk Crime Analytics Canada. Rich ran the Canadian operation since the transfer of ownership until his retirement.

His credentials range from deep technical work (five patents in hardware and software) to running R&D. Former chair IBM Microelectronics Canada Lab Patent Review Board. Rich has created five generations of eLearning platforms. Designed and wrote full-text search engine including crawling support for large-scale case management system. In 2010 co-authored “Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide” for Packt Publishing.

“It’s never been done” is a call to action for Rich. He has built a career on breaking new grounds in the computer field. In 1986 he developed CARES (Computer Assisted Recovery Enhancement System) for the Metropolitan Toronto Police. CARES was the first computer system in the world for aging missing children.

Rich developed an online course and workshops on how to write a book trailer. There are many sites on how to create a book trailer with iMovie, Movie Maker, Animoto to name a few but they only discussed the steps in assembling the video, not what goes into a good book trailer. Rich defines the components, approaches and strategies. BookTrailer101.infoMore than how to assemble a video, how to create a Book Trailer.

Rich studied at George Brown College in Toronto taking the bread baking, recipe development and food media. Rich is documenting his bread baking work at OnBreadAlone.com

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Painting of Rich Helms by Daniel Colby


  • Enabl-u Technologies Canada Inc.
    Verisk Crime Analytics Canada Inc.
    (Uxbridge, ON) (November 2009 – retired September 2013)
    Rume Interactive Canada Inc. (Uxbridge, ON)(July 2000 to October 2009)

    • Chief Technology Officer – Corporate
    • President – Canadian company more →
  • Write Stuff Writing Services (Sunderland, ON)
    (October 1999 to now)

    • Website and advertising development
  • Electronics Workbench
    (October 1997 to October 1999)

    • Vice-President Research and Development more →
  • IBM Canada Limited (April 1976 to September 1997)
    • IBM Microelectronics Canada Lab Chief Information Officer (1997)
    • IBM Microelectronics Canada Lab Patent Review Board Chair (1995, 1996) more →
    • Researcher (January 1992 to February 1993) On-loan to University of Toronto more →
    • Chief Image Technology Architect (September 1988 to July 1990) (Somers, NY, USA) more →


IBM Microelectronics Canada Lab Patent Review Board Chair (1995, 1996)
In 1996, microelectronics group created 33% of all IBM Canada patents with 75 people while in 1995, 20% with 70 people.

3 Canadian and 2 US Patents

  • Surround Sound Driver Architecture with Multiple Sound Cards. 1994. US Patent 5,630,175 (PDF) – May 13, 1997, Surround Sound System. Canadian Patent 2,132,763 – March 30, 1999. more →
  • An Imaging System Using a Data Transmission Light Source for Subject Illumination. Canadian Patent CA 2,194,027 – December 4, 2001. more →
  • Dual Mode Collimated Communications Transceiver. 1996. Canadian Patent 2,194,024. – January 30, 2001. more →
  • Multi-simulator Co-simulation. 1999. US Patent 6,560,572 (PDF) – May 6, 2003. more →

Click on a patent number to see the actual patent.


1980 – Invented the programming language RICH/AIM for writing on-line education and demonstrations. Enabled running demo presentations on IBM 5280, S/34 and S/38. The language and demonstrations written with the language were credited with saving the IBM Corporation 650 man years worldwide ($60 million US). This work was recognized with the second highest honour that IBM awards for technical work.

1981 – Invented prototype software based on AIM/RICH that became the IBM InfoWindow system used for multimedia education and kiosks. This was IBM’s first entry into the multimedia market.

1993 – Led team that authored “Experience C++ – A Multimedia Tutorial” CD-ROM. Improved productivity of development five-fold over conventional approaches. This was the first CD-ROM content title that IBM Canada wrote. The purpose of the CD was to teach C++ and object-oriented programming. The first edition sold out in two weeks and was into third printing in three months. Received three awards, two from IBM, including “one of the top five publication innovations in the IBM Corporation for 1994”, and one from the Society for Technical Communications.

2000 – Created Learn it Script (LiS) for online education. LiS was driven by two key needs. First to support high quality video without streaming and second fast authoring to lower the authoring costs. Video was supported on a local CD or server while the course resided on a web server. Host support enabled lower maintenance costs while support for local video eliminated the need for high speed connections. A dial-up connection performed like high speed. Authoring was 10X quicker than available competition. Supported AICC.

2008 – Created EducatePress (EP) for online education. EducatePress built on the concepts in LiS but support multi-site authoring and testing. EducatePress expanded browser support to all popular PC/Mac browsers as well as iPad/iPhone/iPod. EducatePress also supports SCORM integration. EP language has grown to over 70 commands. Supports SCORM and detailed student tracking.

2011 – Converted several books to Amazon Kindle format with full capabilities including chapter and audio reading support. Fluent in Kindle and Apple iBooks Author.

2012 – Hyper-scalable eLearning platforms with thousands of students taking a course concurrently and applying gamification technology.

2017 – Rich is building on his 2012 work in hyper-scalability sites for large volume viewing based on WordPress designing then exporting to a static site and Amazon S3 hosting.


Book Trailer 101 Primer

In the beginning (several years ago actually), The Writers’ Community of Durham Region asked me to present a workshop on how to create a book trailer. I was stunned that other than covering how to use specific video editors, there was nothing available about how to write and design a trailer. I found many sites on how to make a book trailer with iMovie or Animoto, but they discussed only the steps in assembling the video, not what goes into writing the trailer script. To me, this was like teaching how to use a power drill, then saying “You have the tool, now go build a house.”

Thus was born Book Trailer 101. “It’s never been done” is my call to action. The first order of business was to watch and analyze book trailers, and one thing became apparent quickly – only a few rose to the top. I also realized that effective trailers are more a product of imagination and creativity than the outlay of large sums of money.

I put out the word to writers I knew, as well as writing groups, asking for links to good book trailers. As I mucked through the coal, a few gems emerged. I looked for patterns in aspects such as the approach, and each time I discovered a new technique, I reassessed the trailer collection. I spoke to publishing professionals whose jobs are to oversee the creation of book trailers. As my analysis evolved, authors and creators offered me feedback and their opinions.

It became apparent that book trailers are a form of advertising. There are no hard and fast rules in advertising, but there are commonly accepted practices. Comparing the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) advertising principals to effective trailers yielded another dimension in my analysis. I showed my analysis to authors and publishers, and again, their feedback provided more insight.

The real eye-opener was teaching workshops. In my five-week course, the students walk through the process, creating their own book trailers. They learn a lesson in each class, then apply it for their own books as homework. By the fifth class, the students are showing and explaining the logic behind their trailers. The goal is not to have them create their final trailers, but to progress far enough that they can tune and continue to evolve their videos as needed.

Book Trailer 101
ISBN-13 978-0-9938829-1-3
Book Trailer 101
Book Trailer 101 Primer
Book Trailer 101 Primer
Kindle eBook

Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide

In 2010 Prabhakar Chaganti and Rich Helms wrote Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide for Packt Publishing. Available from Packt Publishing, Amazon and other book retailers.


SimpleDB is a highly scalable, simple-to-use, and inexpensive database in the cloud from Amazon Web Services. But in order to use SimpleDB, you really have to change your mindset. This isn’t a traditional relational database; in fact it’s not relational at all. For developers who have experience working with relational databases, this may lead to misconceptions as to how SimpleDB works.

This practical book aims to address your preconceptions on how SimpleDB will work for you. You will be quickly led through the differences between relational databases and SimpleDB, and the implications of using SimpleDB. Throughout this book, there is an emphasis on demonstrating key concepts with practical examples for Java, PHP, and Python developers.

You will be introduced to this massively scalable schema-less key-value data store: what it is, how it works, and why it is such a game-changer. You will then explore the basic functionality offered by SimpleDB including querying, code samples, and a lot more. This book will help you deploy services outside the Amazon cloud and access them from any web host.

You will see how SimpleDB gives you the freedom to focus on application development. As you work through this book you will be able to optimize the performance of your applications using parallel operations, caching with memcache, asynchronous operations, and more.

Gain in-depth understanding of Amazon SimpleDB with PHP, Java, and Python examples, and run optimized database-backed applications on Amazon’s Web Services cloud


CARES (Computer Assisted Recovery Enhancement System), a computer system for aging missing children announced on July 4, 1986, was a joint project between the Metropolitan Toronto Police and IBM Canada Lab. CARES was the first computer-based child-aging system in the world.

1986 – Rich Helms at the first CARES development workstation

The key creators of CARES were Rich Helms and Bill Groves of the IBM Canada Lab and Bette Clarke, Metro Toronto police artist. Bette worked with a Toronto medical research team to learn how people grow and age. Bette then developed growth algorithms that Rich and the IBM team turned into computer image editing software. While the images look primitive by today’s image standards, realize this was 1986, over 25 years ago, and just getting a 640×480 image into a computer was a technical challenge. The PC/AT used was a 8 Mhz 80286 with 2 megs of memory and a pair of 30 meg- hard disks. The image printer in the press conference was a prototype from Mitsubishi that was the state-of-the-art printer at the time.

Rich Helms’ CARES work was recognized with a Metro Toronto Police Appreciation Plaque in December 1992. CARES was featured on Top Cops (US television show) in January 1992.

CARES is still in use at Metro Toronto Police. (Toronto Police Services Forensic Identification Services). The software is now Adobe Photoshop and the hardware is commonly available, but the algorithms and techniques are an evolution of the original work.

There were several interesting findings in the CARES project. First was the use of colour verses grayscale. The computer systems in the 1980s struggled with colour, as did the printers. The IBM colour printer used at the time printed only 8 colours at 72 dpi. The original display at the press conference displayed just 256 colours. The work moved to a Matrox display adapter that showed full 24 bit colour at 640×480, but the team stopped using colour in favor of gray scale. This was not done to avoid technical difficulties, but rather because gray-scale photos were better for recognition. If a colour photo of a person is distributed, people focus on the colour over the features. Use a gray scale photo, and the features become the focus.

How people age was studied in detail at The Hospital for Sick Children and with Dr. Farkas. Thousands of photo collections of people were cataloged and analyzed. This work formed the basis of the CARES algorithms. The reason for the research is interesting. Assume a child is in an automobile accident and goes face first into the windshield, crushing the side of his face. The reconstructed side of his face will not grow, so if you must predict the adult look and reconstruct to that.

There are four characteristics that cannot be predicted though:

  1. Hair colour
  2. Hair style
  3. Weight
  4. Teeth

As all are easily changable (e.g. teeth due to braces), these could only be guesses based on current trends.

“CARES was an amazing part of my life. I worked on some high-profile cases such as enhancing the last photo of Alison Parrot walking past a bank window on the way to being killed. Bette and Bill are now retired while my interest in image and media continues into my current work.”

Videos About CARES

CARES (Computer Assisted Recovery Enhancement System), a computer system for aging missing children was a joint project between the Metropolitan Toronto Police and IBM Canada Lab. CARES was the first computer-based child aging system in the world.

TV network coverage of the press conference

July 4, 1986

IBM Commercials about CARES

IBM Canada Limited – CARES Commercial – English (1987)

IBM Canada Limited – CARES Commercial – French (1987)

TV Shows about CARES

Missing Treasures from the mid-80s

Canada AM

Top Cops


  • B.A. from Clarion University of Pennsylvania (1971)
    • Major: Mathematics (in 1971 the computer belonged to the math department)
    • 1971 Charter member of Pennsylvania Lambda – the Clarion chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon – National Honorary Mathematics Fraternity
  • Teachers Certificate from Hamilton Teachers College (1974) (Closed 1979)

Interest courses