A Special Interest Group of the MIT Media Laboratory

The MIT Media Laboratory's Broadercasting special interest group (SIG) is no longer active as of 2002. This site provides background on some of the people and projects that were associated with this research. The most current information about Media Laboratory research can be found in our Research section.

As all aspects of the media business—from content capture to delivery —become digital, and as a new generation of viewers/listeners develops who can't remember when there weren't PCs and the Internet, it's time to think about broadcasting in a broader way. Broadcasters are at a fork in the road: they create and distribute information and entertainment, and they also radiate bits. With the viewer's/listener's attention increasingly being attracted by non-broadcast services, the challenge emerges to do nontraditional and engaging things with mass distribution media.

Broadercasting research examined the implications and opportunities presented by the powerful combination of digital transmission and distributed computational intelligence. It merged ongoing activities in the Digital Life, News in the Future, and Things That Think programs with a menu of cohesive initiatives. Four fundamental themes tied together the Broadercasting projects:

Broadcasting Behaviors — Responsive digital media adapt in a meaningful and useful way to audience identity, circumstances, equipment, and actions. The creator of a responsive media document is generating not just the document but also a set of adaptive behaviors, which might be said to send a little of the creator along with the presentation. Research also addressed the ability to create synthetic characters with responsive behaviors.

Structured Production Methods — The best sorts of responsiveness are enabled by an object-based representation of media. We had already developed means for generating three-dimensional models of scenes from ordinary photographs, for segmenting and tracking objects, and for unmixing sets of sound sources; we sought to add new technologies to this toolkit and to make these methods faster and more robust.

Broadcasting to Things — Broadcast bits reach everyone in the world but are currently targeted solely at television screens or radio loudspeakers. We add such things as kitchen appliances, autos, and toys as destinations. Even devices that play the role of traditional screens and speakers will be physically very different from the output devices to which we're accustomed, and work on developing new output devices will coordinate with work on authoring of content that can take advantage of the new capabilities.

Everyone a Broadcaster — On the World Wide Web, anyone can be a publisher. The millions of personal Web pages haven't eliminated the role of the thousands of traditional information sources, but rather have created an environment of technical innovation and expressive creativity that benefits everyone. We proposed fully integrated IP multicast television, shared resources, and telecasting from cameras and computers anywhere in the world.

Many of the projects pursued several of these themes simultaneously.

More Information:

Current MIT Media Lab Research
Former MIT Personnel
Previous Meeting Agendas
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