A glimpse of the future…of wasting time

Always hard at work behind the scenes (in the dark bowels of our North Dakota world blogging headquarters) our site administrator Chaitan often comes to me with suggestions for how we can improve your Sepia Mutiny experience. Often he helps us battle comment trolls and spammers by hacking clever new countermeasures on the fly to thwart them. Some of his ideas are just wacky, like the time he suggested we convert our blog to 3D (so you would need to wear those glasses). Even though I haven’t seen him in a few weeks because of some “Top Secret” project he has been working on for us, he did approach me over the weekend and said I had to blog about this new technology he heard about that was the hit of the TED conference this year. He explained that some day anyone would be able to just walk up to any wall and read SM. Heck, with this technology you could even read SM on your friend’s white t-shirt while pretending to be listening to said friend:

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p>The inventor of this wearable technology that was constructed for ~$350 with off-the-shelf components is Pranav Mistry of MIT’s Media Lab:

Currently, I am a Research Assistant and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab. Before joining MIT I worked as a UX Researcher with Microsoft. I received my Master in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and Master of Design from IIT Bombay. I have completed my bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Palanpur is my hometown, which is situated in northern Gujarat in India.

Exposure to fields like Design to Technology and from Art to Psychology gave me a quite nice/interesting viewpoint to the world. I love to see technology from design perspective and vise versa. This vision reflects in almost all of my projects and research work as well. in short, I do what I love and I love what I do. I am a ‘Desigineer’ :) … [Link]

I confess, I did find it a bit creepy when he walked up to his friend and all of the friend’s metadata was laid bare on his shirt. Imagine your FB profile being projected on your shirt when someone meets you. Then again, how great would it be to sneak in to the toilet stall at work for an extended “visit” and write a blog post on a projected keyboard on the inside of the stall door? What? A blogger can dream…

22 thoughts on “A glimpse of the future…of wasting time

  1. Pretty Effing Awesome.

    The lady sounds like Arnold and I dont like “recycled” toilet paper.

  2. Fascinating stuff! Now i dont need to remember anything…not even the names of people i meet. This stuff will generate name tags for me.

    Now we are getting to the 21st century they talked about in all those movies!

  3. This was so beautiful. Congratulations to Pranav Mistry and his advisor on conceptualizing and designing this product. The Media Lab at MIT is awesome.

  4. Love what he states about his passion for his work. Reminds me of my favorite saying:

    If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.

  5. that thing seems a tad hyped to me. Its probably not as versatile as they claim, and seems in some sense, “staged” to do those exact things in front of the camera. Its not like they’ve built an all encompassing AI and face recognition, etc… they essentially put together some existing technology… so there cant be as much magic in it as they claim!

  6. the consumer electronics show this year was rife with similar products out of sony, hitachi, toshiba et al. conceivably they could all be modified to have th efeatures shown by mistry. the novelty to me is the price tag for the functionality. 350$ for a single-production item is pretty remarkable. my wish to mistry is that he becomes an entrepreneur or seeks angel support to convert the product to a mass market offering. there are bright foaks out there -raises hand- with the intellect and the business acumen to make this a success.

  7. Wouldnt it be more practically just to take a picture of something with your camera phone and then have the camera search the internet for all the info you want? Or if you want to tell if paper towels are made from recycled material you can try to read the label?

    What about wearing a giant mirror that reflects all images of the faces of people who walk by you on to a image recorder and if the face matches a “FBI Wanted list” the police would rush in and grab the person? This thing could do that.

    How odd would it be if your talking to someone and all of the sudden this device your wearing projects “CHILD MOLESTER” on to the guys head?

  8. Yeah and the fun will really come when you have a group conversation and data from two different people would start projecting onto one person, that would be funny.

    Also I think that the bit in the cab in the end looked a little photoshopped.

  9. Wouldnt it be more practically just to take a picture of something with your camera phone and then have the camera >search the internet for all the info you want?

    A more awesome tool would be to incorporate some kind of device onto spectacles or sunglasses and at the twitch of finger or button all info (metadata,internet info etc.) related to the object one gazes upon should appear in some kind of display on the glasses. That would be the first true step towards a super-info-human android. Here is a rudimentary version of analogous device – HOW TO – Make video spy glasses

  10. 13 · as said

    The Media Labs guys are particularly good at doing this kind of hype.

    This is true. Of course, the video made it look effortless. Nonetheless, it’s a nice idea. Just the mere premise of all this stuff — that we all want to connect and interact meaningfully with as many people as possible is refreshing. Otherwise, the news is all about partisanship and fundamentalism (yes, reading the muck that is dredged just before Indian elections and Pakistani politics is wearing me out :) )

  11. these kinda demos are good only for that, for all practical purpose it will never be close to usability in real life, technology to create these in a controlled environment is already there, challenge is in making it practical. plz don’t drool over these scifi book ideas, welcome to the earth.

  12. I thought Pranav was that Germanic lady speaking at first, and I got really confused! Well, I’m very proud of a fellow-Desi, and he’s based over here in my neck of the woods. Way to go, brother.

    How come Pranav didn’t speak about this product, but that tall, ghora did? Are ghoras more trust-worthy or more marketable than Indians? Why do they all need white spokespersons and salespersons to pitch a product? Why not a black or an Indian?

  13. How come Pranav didn’t speak about this product, but that tall, ghora did?

    I am not sure if you ask that in jest – but the reason is actually much simpler. Its not about Pranav’s or Pattie’s skin color or ethnicity – its about their professional roles. Pattie seems to be the one who leads the lab where Pranav is a grad student. That she pointed Pranav out in the crowd and let him take some of the limelight is much more than what many bosses would usually do at such an event!

  14. our site administrator Chaitan often comes to me with suggestions for how we can improve your Sepia Mutiny experience. Often he helps us battle comment trolls and spammers by hacking clever new countermeasures on the fly to thwart them.

    How about people have to sign up with an email address and a password like on many other sites to comment on SM. This would go along way to get rid of trolls.

  15. that…is…awesome!

    clearly, the phone needs a bit more horsepower for this to work smoothly, but really, why not?

    Oh, and mad props for posting a TED talk. I love these so much.