MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


In many ways, the 1995-96 academic year was a significant one for the Media Laboratory. On October 10, some 1,300 Media Laboratory sponsors, staff, and friends from around the world came to Cambridge to join in 10/10, the Laboratory's tenth birthday celebration. As part of the event, we hosted a day-long symposium and open house, where Media Laboratory researchers presented glimpses of what might be coming down the digital pike in the near future: a new generation of electronic books; autonomous agents to handle mundane daily tasks; perceptive environments; and a world of intelligent, everyday objects.

10/10 highlights included A Day in the Life of Cyberspace, the first global portrait of life in the digital age--where the Laboratory asked millions of people worldwide to share "Guinness bits" of their lives on line; and the inauguration of the Laboratory's newest consortium, Things That Think (TTT). TTT will work closely with sponsor companies, which range from clothing manufacturers, to telecommunications companies, to theme park developers, to create more capable and less obtrusive devices, embedded in the environment and linked to robust, distributed networks. We envision a day when you will wake up in the morning and have your shoes retrieve the day's personalized news from your carpet, for delivery to your eyeglasses--while your coffee maker anticipates your need for a second cup of fresh coffee.

This past year also brought a significant increase in Laboratory sponsors. Its total annual dollar volume (research funds, academic, and equipment gifts) reached $24 million in Fiscal Year 1996 (up from less than $1 million during the Laboratory's first year of operation in 1985). Some 89 percent of this research support now comes from close to 130 sponsors worldwide, an increase of approximately 40 percent over last year.


A sampling of 1995-96 Media Laboratory research accomplishments include:

Much of the work of the Laboratory will be featured in the PBS television series "Scientific American Frontiers," whose premiere episode in the fall of 1996 will focus exclusively on the Media Laboratory.



The Laboratory's research volume continued to grow in Fiscal Year 1996, with $10.3 million (89 percent) coming from corporate sponsors. Approximately $1.3 million (11 percent) came from the U.S. federal government (Department of the Army, DOT, NEA, NSF, Office of Naval Research, and ORD). Geographically, the industrial component of Fiscal Year 1996 contract research sponsorship breaks down as follows: 65 percent the Americas; 20 percent Europe; and 15 percent Far East


New directed research sponsors during Fiscal Year 1996 included:

ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories (Kyoto, Japan), which supported Professor Pentland's work on the ALIVE project;

AT&T Foundation, which provided a 1995 Special Purpose Grant in Science and Engineering to Professor Justine Cassell;

Cognex Corporation, which supported Professor Alex Pentland's work in perceptual computing;

U.S. Department of Transportation. which provided a grant to Ron MacNeil for "Innovative Railroad Information Displays for Dispatch and Train Engineer Functions;" and

National Endowment for the Arts, which provided a grant to Ron MacNeil for "Design Access: Civiscape."


In Fiscal Year 1995 the Media Laboratory initiated a new consortium: Things That Think (TTT).

Officially inaugurated at the Laboratory's tenth birthday celebration, TTT explores ways of moving computation beyond conventional sites, such as PCs or laptops, and adding intelligence to objects that are first and foremost something else. By sensing the movements or feelings of their owners or by learning their owners' habits, common devices such as toasters, doorknobs, or shoes will be able, in their own right and through communication with one another, to solve meaningful problems. By becoming truly responsive and unobtrusive, the information technology in the inanimate things around us will enhance the quality of daily living.

TTT brings together an unusual range of interdisciplinary talent and builds upon the close research partnership between the Laboratory and its sponsor community. TTT's principal investigators are: Neil Gershenfeld, Michael Hawley, and Tod Machover. Additional faculty members and researchers involved in the consortium include: Walter Bender, Richard Bolt, Justine Cassell, Hiroshi Ishii, Joseph Jacobson, Marvin Minsky, Seymour Papert, Joseph Paradiso, Alex Pentland, Rosalind Picard, and Mitchel Resnick.

As of June 30, 1996, the list of TTT sponsoring companies are:

American Greeting Corporation, AMP, Inc., Analog Devices, Inc., ASCII Corporation, AT&T
Corp., Becton Dickinson and Company, Brother Industries, Ltd., Compaq Computer
Corporation, Creative Technology, Ltd., Deutsche Telekom AG, EDS, Federal Express
Corporation, FESTO, The Gillette Company, Inc. Hewlett-Packard Company, Interval Research
Corporation, The LEGO Group, Levi Strauss & Co., Lord Corporation, Microsoft Corporation,
Motorola Inc., National Semiconductor Corporation, Neurotec International Corporation, NIKE,
Inc., Nokia Corporation, Oki America, Inc., Olivetti, The Procter & Gamble Company, SEGA of
America, Inc., Sensormatic Electronics Corp., Siemens AG, Steelcase Inc., Telia Research AB,
3Com Corporation, Volvo, Walt Disney Imagineering, WPP Group plc, and YAMAHA Corporation.

News in the Future
Grupo Estado (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and JC Penney Company (Plano, Texas) joined the Laboratory's News in the Future consortium in Fiscal Year 1996.

Television of Tomorrow
Riverland (Brussels, Belgium) joined the Laboratory's Television of Tomorrow consortium.


America Online, ATG, Berkeley Software Design, Inc., Digital Equipment Corporation, FORE Systems, Inc., GNN, Intel, NYNEX, Eastman Kodak, MegaDrive Systems, Prodigy, Quatum Corporation and Video On Line contributed to the development of "A Day in the Life of Cyberspace," as part of the 10/10 celebration.

AT&T continued to support the Laboratory through its Digital Media Research Fund. The following students were named AT&T Media Laboratory Fellows in the fall of 1995: Anthony Chavez, Daniel Gruhl, Richard Lachman, Lisa Stifelman, and Brygg Ullmer.

The following students were named Motorola Fellows for this fiscal year: Kevin Brooks, Roger Kermode, Alexandros Moukas, Rob Silvers, Joshua Smith, Flavia Sparacino, and Manish Tuteja.

Interval Research Corporation Fellows, named in the fall of 1995, were Karrie Karahlios, Teresa Marrin, Thomas Minka, Wendy Plesniak, Rob Poor, and Marina Umaschi.

Video On Line (VOL), a Gruppo Grauso company (Sardinia, Italy), made a grant to support five Media Laboratory Fellows: Amy Bruckman, Lenny Foner, Jennifer Glos, John Underkoffler, and Zhonghui Xu. In addition, VOL provided partial funding for Joseph Jacobson's research on electronic paper.

Equipment Gifts
Digital Equipment Corporation gave a $1 million external research grant of general equipment, as well as $300K in network/workstations in support of the 10/10 Web event.

Hewlett-Packard Company gave three recipient-enhanced grants for a total of $575,000. An additional grant of test equipment, valued at $36,700, supported the work of Professor Neil Gershenfeld.

Intel Corporation provided $360,000 in workstations/servers in support of the 10/10 event.

Mitsubishi Electric gave projectors valued at $88,000 in support of 10/10.

Steelcase donated furniture valued at $30,000.


New Media Technology Fund sponsors during the year included: Citicorp/TTI, Scitex Corporation, Ltd., J. Sainsbury plc, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and Southwestern Bell Technology Resources, Inc.


New Appointments
Glorianna Davenport, who has been associate professor of media arts and sciences since 1993, jointly with the Department of Architecture, was appointed principal research associate effective June 1, 1996. Ms. Davenport came to MIT as a technical assistant in the Department of Architecture's Film/Video group working with Professor Richard Leacock. She was promoted to lecturer in 1981, to assistant professor in 1988, and was appointed the first holder of the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation Career Development Professor of Media Technology in January 1990. Davenport will continue as director of the Laboratory's Interactive Cinema group.

Robert Bloomberg joined the staff as associate director of the Media Laboratory for administration and operations in January 1996. Bloomberg came to the Laboratory from MIT's central Purchasing Office, where he was assistant director for subcontracting. Previously, Bloomberg worked at McDonnell Douglas; Bolt, Beranek & Newman; and Hanscom Air Force Base.

Michail Bletsas joined the Laboratory as director of computer systems in January 1996. Bletsas came to the Laboratory from Aware, Inc., and is completing his PhD in computer engineering at Northeastern University. Mr. Bletsas replaces Gerald Hornik, who resigned his position as director of technical services and accepted the new position of manager of capital equipment and telecommunications in February 1996.

David Riquier joined the Communications and Sponsor Relations staff in September 1995 as the office's associate director. Previously, Riquier held a number of positions at Digital Equipment Corporation in marketing and communications.

Linda Lowe joined the Laboratory as project coordinator for the new Things That Think research consortium in August 1995. Ruth Rothstein joined the Laboratory as project coordinator for the TVOT research consortium. Dennis Irving joined the technical staff of the Laboratory in May 1996 as facilities coordinator.

The Laboratory appointed four new technical staff members during 1996: Marc Berjarano joined as network engineer in June; Jon Ferguson joined as systems programmer in February; Tomas Revesz joined as administrative computing specialist in April; and Eric Trimble accepted a temporary (one -year) systems programmer position in the Vision and Modeling section of the Laboratory in January.

New Visitors
Steven McGeady, vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet Technology Laboratory, was appointed visiting scientist for one year on May 1, 1996.

Carl Malamud, founder and president of the Internet Multicasting Service (IMS), was appointed visiting scientist to the Media Laboratory for two years beginning on June 1, 1996. At IMS he created the first radio program on the Internet and the Internet 1996 World Exposition.

Phillip Grey was appointed research affiliate to the Media Laboratory from British Telecom for the period from April 11 to July 10, 1996. Kenichi Mori was appointed research affiliate to the Media Laboratory from Toshiba Corporation of Japan on May 1, 1996. Richard Wurman was appointed visiting scientist for one year on July 1, 1995.

Deborah Cohen was named associate director of the Media Laboratory for communications and sponsor relations on May 1, 1996. Cohen joined the Media Laboratory as director of communications and sponsor relations in November 1994.

Henry Holtzman was promoted to research scientist on May 1, 1996. Holtzman joined the Media Laboratory staff in 1985 as senior systems analyst, was accepted to the MS program in Media Arts and Sciences in 1989, and following completion of his degree in 1989, re-joined the Laboratory as a research specialist working with Andrew Lippman, associate director of the Laboratory, on the Movies of the Future research project.

Joseph Paradiso was promoted to technical director of the Things That Think research consortium in December 1995. Paradiso joined the Media Laboratory staff in 1994 as research scientist (physicist) to collaborate with Professors Neil Gershenfeld and Tod Machover on the development of new physical mechanisms for interface transduction.

Staff Members Join MAS Academic Program
Two members of the Laboratory's staff, Pascal Chesnais and John Watlington, resigned their positions as research specialists to become PhD candidates in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences.

Nicholas Negroponte


The following list indicates Media Laboratory sponsors (as of June 30, 1996) according to the categories of sponsorship defined in Intellectual Property Rights of Media Laboratory Sponsors:


Apple Computer
Bell Communications Research
Central Intelligence Agency
Compaq Computer Corporation
Department of the Army
Department of Transportation
Honda R&D Company, Ltd.
International Business Machines
Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)
LEGO Futura ApS
Microsoft Corporation
National Endowment for the Arts
National Science Foundation
Office of Naval Research
Oki Advanced Products Division
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Sun Microsystems
Texas Instruments, Inc.


News in the Future (NiF)
Aamulehti Group, Ltd.
ABC Radio Networks and
Capital Cities/ABC Publishing Group
Advance Publications, Inc., and
Newhouse Broadcasting Corporation
BellSouth Enterprises, Inc.
The Chronicle Publishing Company
Editoriale L'Espresso S.p.A.
Gannett Co., Inc.
Grupo Clarín
Grupo Estado
Hearst Corporation
International Business Machines
Knight-Ridder, Inc.
Lotus Development Corporation
McCann-Erickson Worldwide
NY Times/Globe
Pulitzer Publishing Company
Televisa s.a. de c.v.
Thomson Newspapers Corporation
The Times Mirror Company
Tribune Company
Ziff-Davis Interactive
Singapore Digital Media Consortium (SDMC)
Aztech Systems Ltd.
iMedia (S) Pte. Ltd.
IPC Corporation Ltd.
Institute of Microelectronics (IME)
Institute of Systems Science (ISS)
Information Technology Institute (ITI)
National Computer Board (NCB)

Television of Tomorrow (TVOT)
Eastman Kodak
Hughes Aircraft
Televisa s.a. de c.v.
Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.
Viacom International

Things That Think (TTT)
American Greetings Corporation
AMP, Inc.
Analog Devices, Inc.
ASCII Corporation
AT&T Corp.
Becton Dickinson and Company
Brother Industries, Ltd.
Compaq Computer Corporation
Creative Technology, Ltd.
Deutsche Telekom AG
Federal Express Corporation
The Gillette Company
Hewlett-Packard Company
Interval Research Corporation
The LEGO Group
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lord Corporation
Microsoft Corporation
Motorola Inc.
National Semiconductor Corporation
Neurotec International Corporation
NIKE, Inc.
Nokia Corporation
Oki America, Inc.
The Procter & Gamble Company
SEGA of America, Inc.
Sensormatic Electronics Corp.
Siemens AG
Steelcase Inc.
Telia Research AB
3Com Corporation
Walt Disney Imagineering
WPP Group plc
YAMAHA Corporation


AMP, Inc.
Bay Networks, Inc.
Digital Equipment Corporation
FORE Systems, Inc.
International Business Machines
Silicon Graphics
Sony Industrial Products
Sun Microsystems


Casio Computer Co., Ltd.
Hughes Electronics Corporation
Kodansha Ltd., Publishers
Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.
Scitex Corporation, Ltd.
J. Sainsbury plc
Southwestern Bell Technology Resources Inc.
Tele Danmark A/S


AMP, Inc.
ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories
AT&T Corp.
Cognex Corporation
DDP Publishing, Inc.
Festo KG
Interlego A/S
Interval Research Corporation
Mitsubishi Electric
Motorola, Inc.
Video On Line
Brain Opera
NTT Data


Rudge and Nancy Allen
Asahi Broadcasting Corporation
AT&T Corp.
Armand and Celeste Bartos
Alex Dreyfoos, Jr
Fukutake Publishing
Gruppo Grauso
Interlego A/S
LG Electronics, Inc.
Misawa Homes
Phillipe Villers
Muriel R. Cooper Memorial Professorship
Dohosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Origin/Media Lab BV

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96