MIT Media Lab at SXSW

The MIT Media lab held a packed session this afternoon to review some recent projects.


The first project discussed was a favorite of ours, Affectiva. The speaker showed a graph of his sweat data, being gathered to assess in real time his stress level.

An interesting point made by chairman Joichi Ito was that over time, the amount of information in the world tends to exceed the ability of even the largest organizations to do big things on their own. When we were using spears and sticks, all the technology of the world could fit in one human head. When you get to the industrial age, one person doesn’t understand every detail, but collectively the company does between the combined knowledge of its workers. We’re way past that now, where even the largest of organizations can’t hope to control every detail of something as complex as the Internet. So what you have now is a loose network of players, and the tools are there for even lone developers in garages to make big contributions alongside corporate giants. And enabling those small players is where the MIT Media Lab comes in both from an academic and commercial perspective.

The way innovation has scaled in the software space, MIT predicts, will son be coming to hardware. Inexpensive 3D printers, startups such as Square are evidence of this, and Ito predicts we’ll soon be printing food. All of this qualifies as “media” because media in this context is expression.

Also shown was a visualization that is installed at the Omni hotel and controlled with Kinect, that shows your hometown and your Facebook friends’ hometowns on a rotating globe.