Walking Around the Media Lab

It’s the day before sponsor week and everyone is a little stressed.

I’m presenting a former graduate student’s project during Sponsor Week. I just got my MacBook Pro on Friday and I haven’t finished customizing it. At the same time, I trying to load up python, the nlp libraries, etc. to run Peggy’s project. After a couple hours of trying to get it to work, Peggy emails me and says that she can come into the lab and help me. Since I had a couple of hours to kill, and I needed a break, I walked around the lab took some pictures. Enjoy!

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Tangible: Week 4

This week’s class was the ramp-up for our first group project.

Class began with Professor Ishii giving a talk on the design process. He also focused on IDEO’s design culture to help encourage our own group dynamics.

Two of our classmates gave excellent short presentations on their own design process and persona creation. I’ll write more about this later.

My group will be creating a physical object/device (momento) that will become associated with digital media to be used as a gift or keepsake. We had some other ideas but those were too ambitious to be completed in two weeks. Plus next week is Sponsor Week!

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Got an Apple

Today my new MacBookPro came in. I also got a 27″ Apple Display to go with it. I never thought I would make the transition to Mac, but the entire MIT Media Lab is Apple-centric. It’s too difficult to stay to PC. Besides, I didn’t pay for it, the school did.

Some things I strongly dislike: no expresscard port, firewire 800, usb ports too close together. Everything else is cool.

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Ping Pong Anyone?!

Ping Pong anyone? 

This installation is on the 3rd floor. Anyone can turn it on and start playing. The projected fish react to the ball when it hits the table.

Ping Pong PlusPlus

PingPongPlusPlus builds on the PingPongPlus project (1998), a ping pong table that sensed ball hit locations and displayed projected visualizations based on the hits. We aim to publish and proliferate the design of our table. We are looking to set up a system of distributed ping pong tables that records the history of hits in a centralized database. From these records, we will explore ways to remix past games and present games to teach, inform, and entertain.

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Tangible: Week 4

Awesome class as usual! We had a guest speaker: Brian Krejcarek of sensibleself.com Check out the website to see of the cool stuff he is working on.Also check out Philips Direct Life and Activa products. Oh yeah, look up Jesse Schell about corporate rewards programs. Interesting stuff!

The class lecture was very cool. Rose gave a great talk on the health care industry adopting innovative devices to assist both the care provider and patient. I took some pictures of his power point slides.

Next: we got the class project assignment.

My group made a breathalyzer-based drinking straw. It would be used in bars to encourage responsible drinking. The straw would turn bright pink as one got closer to the legal alcohol limit for driving. We had to create the prototype using ‘stop-motion’ video. Fun project. Of course, I was the one getting drunk. I will post the video asap. I plan on making it for real, so we’ll see.

Finally, this last photo is of major importance. I need to remember these principles.

Common Sense: Week 3

Today we had a guest speaker: Doug Lenat. He is one of leading researchers in common sense reasoning in artificial intelligence. His company Cycorp released OpenCyc, which is another common sense knowledge base. He presented some interesting examples of Cyc in practice. It’s too bad is stay was short. I had some general questions that I didn’t ask, as I didn’t want to take up the little time he had.

In class, Dr. Lieberman presented some of the differences in methodology between Cyc and Common Sense. I wonder if, in application, does it matter that a common sense assertion is factually false? Is this another aspect of “fail-soft?”

He also showed an example of the flaws of common sense problem solving:

Cheap are apartments are rare.

Rare things are expensive.

Therefore… cheap apartments are expensive.



Tangible: Week 3

This class is awesome! It reminds me of Montessori school. This week we build our prototype project using foam, legos,  and play dough. We made a conference calling device that would allow the user to add, subtract, re-connect other callers to a conference phone call. It was mixer of AIM, skype, google chat like friend listings and old-style analog operator  phone connections (just without the wires).

Tangible: Week 2

The Tangible Interfaces class is broken into two parts. A 2 hour lecture and a two hour workshop. So far, we’re going over an introduction to the class. It’s super interesting. TUI or tangible user interface is not a new concept. However I don’t think anyone’s articulated this as a field. There are many research areas within the Media Lab that seems to overlap: Human Computer Interface (HCI), Fluid Interfaces, Object Based Media, etc.

The latter half of the class continued our discussion/workshops on prototyping techniques. This week we were split into groups of four and had 50 minutes to create a tangible product and storyboard its functionality. We created an alarm-clock chair that was tied to the user’s event calendar.

Personal Robots

No explanation is really needed. This is the personal robots group section. They had the largest group of entering new students of my class. I think you can see why. Robots are super cool.