Research at the Media Lab comprises interconnected developments in an unusual range of disciplines, such as software agents; machine understanding; how children learn; human and machine vision; audition; speech interfaces; wearable computers; affective computing; advanced interface design; tangible media; object-oriented video; interactive cinema; digital expression—from text, to graphics, to sound; and new approaches to spatial imaging, nanomedia, and nanoscale sensing.
Digital Life consortium activities engage virtually the entire faculty of the Media Lab around the theme of "open innovation." Researchers divide the topic into three areas: open communications, open knowledge, and open everything. The first explores the design and scalability of agile, grassroots communications systems that incorporate a growing understanding of emergent social behaviors in a digital world; the second considers a cognitive architecture that can support many features of "human intelligent thinking" and its expressive and economic use; and the third extends the idea of inclusive design to immersive, affective, and biological interfaces and actions.
Things That Think
Things That Think is inventing the future of digitally augmented objects and environments. Toward this end, Things That Think researchers are developing sophisticated sensing and computational architectures for networks of everyday things; designing seamless interfaces that bridge the digital and physical worlds while meeting the human need for creative expression; and creating an understanding of context and affect that helps things "think" at a much deeper level. Things That Think projects under way at the Lab range from inventing the city car of the future to designing a prosthesis with the ability to help a person or machine read social-emotional cues—research that will create the technologies and tools to redefine the products and services of tomorrow.