Daily report: 2nd day in Boston

Our second day in Boston started a bit later than the first one. On the way to the MIT we discovered that the weather was significantly different from the day before. Where the day before it was relatively cold and misty, this day was very warm and moist with a little bit of rain here and there.

The program consisted of the MIT Media lab where we were welcomed by Christon. She was very enthusiastic about the new building they only recently moved into. It was designed by a very famous architect Fumihiko Maki. They felt the building was so special because it was designed to be very open. Every wall was essentially glass to signify the openness and to promote the exchange of ideas. The building is five floors high and had quite a lot of stairs. These stairs were located near wide halls. The idea behind this was to exchange good idea’s by having people meet each other when they go up and down the stairs. When we were properly seated in a nice meeting room Michael Bove came to introduce us to the various projects the MIT Media Lab. He stated that they make no real distinction between people that create things in the virtual world or physical world. All students at the Media lab are doing a wide variety of things in a wide range of subjects. From operating 3d printers to creating models in a virtual world. The way they teach there is much less like a traditional approach to science, where most of the time is spend in lecture halls. At the media lab they let students experiment and build things, throw their idea’s into the group, get a lot of feedback and actively test if the student actually incorporated that feedback into his design.

Next we where introduced to Seth Hunter and Roy Shikirot. They told and showed us some movies about a variety of MIT projects. They were working with the fluid user interfaces group. They design and create all kinds of new input methods.

Sixth Sense

Sixth Sense is a system that uses detectors on ones fingers and a micro projector to access a large amount of information from any place. Currently there must be a laptop computer to do the necessary computations. But the dream is that in the future this can be done on a small mobile device such as a phone.

Reachmedia

Reachmedia is a similar device which uses RFID tags to project information about objects it is near. It was essentially designed with the idea that in a future world every object is imbedded with some RFID chip.

Siftabels

This project is about small blocks that known their relative position. These can be used for a wide variety of things. The examples shown to us include using the blocks to do simple math with or to create your own interactive story with.

Interplay

Interplay is a system where they track your whole body and project shiny balls around you on the ground. They try to give each person a different color. Then the essentially watched how people used the system.

Soundforms

Soundforms uses a touch screen table where some forms can be put on top. These forms can be used to create sound. The essence of this project was to emerge multiple people into collaborating to experiment with different ways to create sound.

After some discussions about the fluid interfaces we were given a tour around the MIT Media lab. Other than the curious architecture there were some very interesting things there. They have for example many touch screens that display information about the rooms they are near to. They can also be used to get information about certain persons there. As said before students at MIT learn how to use a 3d printer. A very peculiar device there is a working analog clock printed as a whole with a 3d printer. There is also a ping pong table with virtual fish swimming on top of it that reacted to the ball. There really are too many interesting things to name around there.

When we were back from the tour we got a presentation about graspables. A system that identifies the way someone grips an object to. People grasp a phone very different from a remote control. At first they thought it would cost a lot of computation power to identify this, but after some testing they found that the chip used for I/O was powerful enough to compute it, eliminating the need of an external computer.

Kevin Chiu came to introduce us to a system to replace traditional barcodes with. Using a LED instead of traditional printed systems. With the system he showed the camera would be able to identify the distance and angle the camera had in relation to the code.

Last on the morning program was a demo of surround vision that used a iPad to be able freely move the point of view outside of the picture shown on the television. Essentially giving consumers control over which of the many camera’s they want to look at. For example during a football match where there are many more camera streams available than shown on regular television.

We had lunch at the media lab. It was a bag with some bread, chips and a desert. It seems that the vegetarian lunches weren’t as good as the non-vegetarian ones, but they were quite royal nonetheless.

After noon program consisted of a lecture about MIT Scheller. Here we talked about the Teachers education program the MIT offered its students and some of games they use the educate children. An interesting program was starlogo. A program that allowed virtually anyone to program a game in a very simple and graphical way.

They let us play a game called Beetle breeders, which is a game which teaches kids about genetics. They let us solve some puzzles and tried to show that games can be a very effective way to show kids that science is not boring but actually fun. They are also busy with a alternate reality mystery game that they hope will let a lot of kids collaborate to solve some difficult problems about a fictional future where a large part of the population is destroyed by some disaster.

After some discussion the group split up and the evening program began. This was essentially free time. This is also the time we found out that Boston’s moist weather had turned a lot wetter and made many regret that they left their umbrella’s at the hostel.

The group split and went off to do different things ranging from blogging in the hostel to finding a bar to drink or walking through Boston looking for a good restaurant.

 

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