Posted in communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays

Week of TED: electronic sixth sense

The MIT Media Lab truly shined this year at the TED conference held in Long Beach, CA February 3-7 (I previously said Monterey, CA, where it had been held in previous years).

“Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The wearer can summon virtual gadgets and internet data at will, then dispel them like smoke.”


The main developers are Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry. They argue that the Internet has become so ubiquitious in people’s lives, that it has already become indispensable. This device can provide a sixth source of information about the world for humans.


“…A lot of the information that helps us understand and respond to the world doesn’t come from [the five] senses. Instead, it comes from computers and the Internet. Maes’ goal is to harness  computers to feed us information in an organic fashion, like our existing senses.”


Here is a link to the video (also in the Wired Blog article (no sound until 1:20 into the video)) that provides a visual.

The potential for this as an art application is HUGE! And not just to draw happy faces on the wall. Just imagine having the ability to pull up building or sculptural plans and display them on-site to get a sense of what it will look like in its future home.

The team “learned recently that cellphone makers soon plan to release cellphones with projectors integrated in them, which will simplify their system even more.”



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.