MIT Media Lab Turns 25: A Gallery

Robots, gadgets, and inventions galore for kids of all ages can all be found at the MIT Media Lab.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab

MIT’s Media Lab celebrated its silver anniversary last week by opening its secretive lab doors to the press. It also invited tech luminaries, such as MIT Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte (now heading One Laptop Per Child) and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, to share their insight on innovation and technology breakthroughs. The Media Lab, which has pioneered everything from robotic prosthetics to the electronic ink inside the Kindle e-reader, showed off some of the latest technology that could soon shape modern life. The images and text that follow are all from IDG News Service which spent the day at the Media Lab exploring the future. (Photos by Nick Barber)

Distinguished Visitors

Hugh Herr, head of the lab's Biomechatronics group, spoke to a packed crowd at MIT. Herr, a double-amputee, created artificial limbs for himself that include motors and sensors to closely mimic human legs.

Busy Workspace

A bird's eye view of one of the workspaces in the lab, where innovative ideas are pursued. The research conducted at the Media Lab has produced gadgets that may have application in the work world, but are also often fun, such as virtual reality devices.

MIT's Robots

Nexi, left, is one of the robots from the Media Lab's Personal Robotics Group. The robot can track objects and interact with its surroundings.

Leonardo, also from the Personal Robotics Group, is capable of near-human facial expression, has a sense of touch and can learn and remember faces. Completed in 2001, it is an older project, but paved the way for more research.

Robot in the Wild

Playtime Computing at the MIT Media Lab is a project that uses a robot in the physical world that can also be represented in a virtual world. The researchers call it transfiction.

NETRA Project Diagnoses Prescriptions

The Media Lab's NETRA project helps people diagnose their eye prescriptions using a smartphone.

At right, Vitor Pamplona, one of the researchers on the NETRA project, demonstrates the system to a Media Lab visitor. It uses a small piece of plastic placed over a smartpone screen to diagnose eyeglass prescriptions.

The CityCar

A model of the CityCar, a futuristic automobile that folds up in a parking spot to take up less space. Once folded, the CityCar would take up about one-third the space of a typical automobile.

Mantis Machine

Researchers who developed the Mantis Machine offered visitors a 3D sculpture of their faces made of chocolate. The Mantis Machine is a low-cost machine that can carve 3D renderings out of various materials. The Mantis Machine has 13 major parts and costs under US$100 to build.


The mascot for Scratch, a programming language targeted at children, welcomes visitors to the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT.

The Luminar Lamp

The Luminar lamp is an augmented reality, robotic interface that projects images onto a flat surface for users to interact with. The lamp's robotic arm will respond to gestures and its camera can recognize objects.

Virtual Mouse

The Media Lab's Pranav Mistry has developed a mouseless mouse. He interacts with the computer as if he were using a mouse and two cameras on the computer track his actions.

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