A good idea is never lost. Even though its originator or possessor may die, it will someday be reborn in the mind of another.... Thomas Edison
What is it? »Gesture-based computing on the cheap
With a single piece of inexpensive hardware — a multicolored glove — MIT researchers are making Minority Report-style interfaces more accessible.
May 20, 2010
Ever since Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi movieMinority Report, in which a black-clad Tom Cruise stands in front of a transparent screen manipulating a host of video images simply by waving his hands, the idea of gesture-based computer interfaces has captured the imagination of technophiles. Academic and industry labs have developed a host of prototype gesture interfaces, ranging from room-sized systems with multiple cameras to detectors built into laptops’ screens. But MIT researchers have developed a system that could make gestural interfaces much more practical. Aside from a standard webcam, like those found in many new computers, the system uses only a single piece of hardware: a multicolored Lycra glove that could be manufactured for about a dollar.
What is it? »Now hear this
3-D imaging technology could lead to hearing aids that fit — and thus function — better than current models.
May 20, 2010
About 36 million Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss. However, only one in five who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. MIT engineers believe that number could be boosted if there were a better way to fit hearing aids to the wearers’ ears.
Getting useful sound amplification from a hearing aid depends on a tight fit between hearing aid and ear canal, but the current method of modeling patients’ ears is messy and not always accurate, potentially leading to a device that fits poorly and offers little benefit.
What is it? »Where the rubber meets the road
"Why Chemomechanical Design of Materials is Critical to Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure" with Krystyn Van Vliet
May 18, 2010
Our conversations on sustainable transportation typically begin with a review of vehicle efficiencies, and end with the characteristics
of fuel, energy sources, and life cycle. In a remarkably novel approach to sustainable transportation, Krystyn Van Vliet
discusses how other things matter too — namely the materials we build our bridges from, the infrastructure of the road, and of course,
the tires we drive on. They are all parts of the sustainable equation.
What is it? »Fly the eco-friendly skies
MIT-led team designs airplanes that would use 70 percent less fuel than current models.
May 17, 2010
In what could set the stage for a fundamental shift in commercial aviation, an MIT-led team has designed a green airplane that is estimated to use 70 percent less fuel than current planes while also reducing noise and emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The design was one of two that the team, led by faculty from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, presented to NASA last month as part of a $2.1 million research contract to develop environmental and performance concepts that will help guide the agency’s aeronautics research over the next 25 years. Known as “N+3” to denote three generations beyond today’s commercial transport fleet, the research program is aimed at identifying key technologies, such as advanced airframe configurations and propulsion systems, that will enable greener airplanes to take flight around 2035.
What is it? »Better models for better reactors
Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering teams working on improving computer-aided simulation and modeling
May 13, 2010
When engineers develop a complex new system, they typically compensate for a lack of field experience by overbuilding — extra material and heavy construction help create margin for error. This trend, for example, is seen in everyday life with airplanes, cars and motorboats; over time, with more data and better computer-aided simulation and design, all have become lighter and more efficient, with better performance and improved safety.