MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


Even five years ago, few people could have imagined how quickly and thoroughly bits would pervade our everyday lives. Working parents are now grocery shopping on the Internet, neighborhood appliance stores are selling Web TV to 70-year-old retirees, and kids everywhere are using computers to discover exciting worlds beyond their own backyards, schools, or even continents.

Since its founding in 1985, the Media Laboratory has helped pioneer a vision of this digital society. Now, as we see this society taking shape, we're continuing to look for new ideas that are as outrageous in 1997 as

the concept of a cellular phone in every pocket was in the mid-80s. This new work ranges from the development of electronic paper, which may lead to the world's first single-volume library; to quantum computing; to a system that uses our bodies as a communications channel, allowing digital information to be exchanged with a mere handshake.

To position the Laboratory for the next millennium, we have engaged in two important initiatives during the past year. The first is the creation of a new consortium, Digital Life, which will address the interconnection between bits, people, and things in an online world, from back-pocket PCs that listen to our stories when we're alone on the road, to tools for creating communities that span the globe. The second is a joint effort between the Media Laboratory and the newly formed 2B1 Foundation to ensure that developments from the Media Lab and other innovative educators around the world can help connect children from all cultures-closing the growing chasm between digital "haves" and "have-nots."


A sampling of 1996-97 Media Laboratory research accomplishments include:


The Laboratory's research volume grew to $13.6 million in Fiscal Year 1997, a 17 percent increase over the past fiscal year. Of this amount, $12.3 million (90 percent) came from corporate sponsors. Approximately $1.3 million (10 percent) came from the U.S. federal government (Department of the Army, DOT, NEA, NSF, and Office of Naval Research.).

New directed research sponsors during Fiscal Year 1997 included: Deutsche Telekom Berkom GMBH, which provided funding to Professor Justine Cassell for "Multimodal Communicating Interface Agents"; National Science Foundation, which provided a grant to Professor Mitchel Resnick for "Beyond Black Boxes: Bringing Transparency and Aesthetics Back to Scientific Instruments"; National Science Foundation, which provided a grant to Professor Justine Cassell for "Stimulate: A Unified Framework for Multimodal Conversational Behaviors in Interactive Humanoid Agents"; and University of California, Berkeley, which provided a grant to Professor Stephen Benton for " 3-D Interfaces: An Interdisciplinary Pipeline."

In Fiscal Year 1997 the Media Laboratory initiated a new consortium: Digital Life (DL). Officially inaugurated on January 1, 1997, Digital Life explores ever-present, personalized networking and the attachments to it that enrich our creative lives. DL abandons the uni-directional nature of home entertainment and allows consumers of mass media to share in its creation. Technologies will target the full population of a globally interconnected society, from children to the elderly, and skateboarders to couch potatoes.

The DL program targets five areas: Evening of the Future, Digitized Devices, Face to Face Computing, Communities3 and the Infinite Internet. DL's program director is Andrew Lippman. Other faculty members and research staff involved with the consortium include: Stephen Benton, Bruce Blumberg, Aaron Bobick, V. Michael Bove, Jr., Justine Cassell, Glorianna Davenport, Judith Donath, Henry Holtzman, Hiroshi Ishii, Henry Lieberman, Ron MacNeil, Patricia Maes, Mitchel Resnick, Christopher Schmandt, and Barry Vercoe.

As of June 30, 1997, the list of DL sponsoring companies is:

American International Group, Inc., Bell Canada, Bertelsmann AG/BMG Entertainment, Bonnier/Marieberg, Citibank N.A., Dentsu, Eastman Kodak, Ericsson, Fuji Xerox, Hakuhodo Incorporated, Hongkong Telecom, Hughes Electronics, Intel, Kodansha Ltd. Publishers, The LEGO Group, MediaOne, Merrill Lynch, 3M, NIKE, Inc., Nortel, NYNEX/Bell Atlantic, OMRON Corp., Panasonic Technologies, Inc., Perot Systems Corporation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., Philips, Riverland, R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, SAIC/Bellcore, SAP AG, Saritel S.p.A., Seiko Epson Corporation, SGS Thomson Microelectronics, Shingakusha, Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems, Southwestern Bell Technology Resources Inc., Tandem Computers, Inc., Tele Danmark, Telecom Finland, Ltd., Televisa s.a. de c.v., TOPPAN Printing Co., Ltd., U.S. Robotics Access Corporation, Viacom International, WPP Group plc, Xerox Corporation.

Seven new sponsors joined the Laboratory's Things That Think consortium in Fiscal Year 1997: Karstadt AG, MasterCard International, Swatch AG, Symbol Technologies, Trimble Navigation Limited, United Technologies Corporation, and Visa International.

Four new sponsors joined the Laboratory's News in the Future consortium in Fiscal Year 1997: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson, and Sun Microsystems.

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 1996: Benjamin Denckla, Daniel Gruhl, Giri Iyengar, Deb Roy, and Lisa Stifelman.

Interval Research Corporation Fellows, named in the fall of 1996 were: Matt Antone, Andrew Dahley, Rehmi Post, Eric Scheirer, Arjan Schütte, and Wasiuddin Wahid.

The following students were named Motorola Fellows for this fiscal year: Kevin Brooks, Pascal Chesnais, Rich Fletcher, Teresa Marrin, Rob Poor, Joshua Smith, and Manish Tuteja.

Eastman Kodak Company selected Phillip Tiongson as the 1996-98 Kodak Fellow.

Telecom Italia provided a grant to support five Media Laboratory Fellows: Amy Bruckman, Nelson Minar, Nick Montfort, Flavia Sparacino, and Alan Wexelblat.

Mitsubishi Electric Research Corporation began a new fellowship program, supporting three students: Michael Casey, Michael Johnson, and Brygg Ullmer.

IBM Corporation gave $154,000 in RISC Systems, laptops, and desktop computers.

Hewlett-Packard Company gave three recipient-enhanced grants for a total of $320,000.

Intel Corporation provided $710,000 in PCs.

Mitsubishi Electric gave projectors and monitors valued at $37,000.

AMP Incorporated gave $300,000 in various types of equipment for the expansion of the fiber optic network.

Silicon Graphics gave a grant of equipment valued at a total of $2,442,740.

Microsoft Corporation gave $230,000 worth of software, training, and support.


Kathleen Shanaghan joined the Laboratory as executive assistant to Nicholas Negroponte in July 1996. Ms. Shanaghan came to the Laboratory from A.T. Kearney, Inc. Before working at A.T. Kearney, Ms. Shanaghan worked in the Executive Office of the President, managing the facilities of the White House complex in Washington, D.C.

Sarah Brady joined the Laboratory as senior financial officer in November 1996. Ms. Brady came to the Laboratory from MIT's Telecommunications Department, where she was manager of administration and finance. Previously, Ms. Brady worked as a manager at Tufts University and as a budget officer and a finance administrator at MIT.

Elizabeth Yonda joined the Laboratory as intellectual property coordinator in September 1996. Betsy Chimento joined the Laboratory as part-time graphic designer in the Office of Communications and Sponsor Relations in January 1997.

Deborah Widener joined the Laboratory as executive coordinator to Andrew Lippman, associate director of the Media Laboratory, in January 1997. Julia Royall joined the Laboratory as project coordinator for the Digital Life Consortium in the Associate Director's Office in March 1997.

The Laboratory appointed three new research scientists during 1996-1997: Hong Tan joined the Laboratory as research scientist for a two-year temporary appointment in the Vision and Modeling group in September 1996. Thomas Nwodoh joined the Laboratory as research associate in the Spatial Imaging group in April 1997. Judith Donath joined the Laboratory for a one-year appointment as research scientist in the Digital Life Program in November 1996. Ms. Donath received her PhD from the Program in Media Arts and Sciences in 1997.

The Laboratory appointed three new technical staff members during 1996-97: William Glesnes joined as network engineer in December 1996; Matthew Trunnell joined as network/systems engineer in January 1997; and Demetrios Paneras joined as webmaster/database coordinator for a one-year appointment in April 1997.

Kishore Sakharkar from the University of Singapore was appointed as research affiliate for three months beginning on January 12, 1997.

The Laboratory appointed two visiting researchers from Intel Corporation: Ilan Shamir was appointed research affiliate for the period from July 23, 1996 to June 30, 1997, and John David Miller was appointed visiting scientist for the period from June 1, 1997 to August 31, 1997.

The Laboratory appointed three visiting researchers from BT Laboratories to positions as research affiliates: Marcus Smith, for the period September 28, 1996 to December 13, 1996; Simon Hovel for the period January 27, 1997 to March 24, 1997; and Ulises Ramos Sanchez, for the period May 17, 1997 to June 17, 1997.

Reiner Van Kleij from Exol SpA was appointed as visiting scientist for two months beginning on August 1, 1996.

Fred Martin was promoted to a temporary three-year appointment as research scientist on June 1, 1996. Dr. Martin received his PhD from the Program in Media Arts and Sciences in 1994, and following completion of his degree, joined the Program in Media Arts and Sciences as a postdoctoral fellow from 1994-96.

Lynn Hyams was promoted to personnel administrator in October 1996. Ms. Hyams previously worked as administrative coordinator of finance and administration in the Media Laboratory.

Nicholas Negroponte


The following list indicates Media Laboratory sponsors as of June 30, 1997.



Central Intelligence Agency

Department of the Army

Department of Transportation

Deutsche Telekom Berkom GMBH

European Commission


Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

International Business Machines

Korea Institute of Science and Technology


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.

Texas Instruments, Inc.

University of California, Berkeley


Digital Life (DL)

American International Group, Inc.

Bell Canada

Bertelsmann AG/BMG Entertainment


Citibank N.A.


Eastman Kodak


Fuji Xerox

Hakuhodo Incorporated

Hongkong Telecom

Hughes Electronics


Kodansha Ltd., Publishers

The LEGO Group


Merrill Lynch


NIKE, Inc.


NYNEX/Bell Atlantic


Panasonic Technologies, Inc.

Perot Systems Corporation

Philip Morris Companies, Inc.



R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company



Saritel S. p. A.

Seiko Epson Corporation

SGS Thomson Microelectronics


Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems

Southwestern Bell Technology

Resources Inc.

Tandem Computers, Inc.

Tele Danmark

Telecom Finland, Ltd.

Televisa s.a. de c.v.

TOPPAN Printing Co., Ltd.

U.S. Robotics Access Corporation

Viacom International

WPP Group plc

Xerox Corporation

News in the Future (NiF)

Aamulehti Group, Ltd.

ABC, Inc.

Advance Publications, Inc.

BellSouth Enterprises, Inc.

The Chronicle Publishing Company

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Eastman Kodak

Editoriale L'Espresso S.p.A.

Gannett Co., Inc.

Grupo Clarín

Grupo Estado

Hearst Corporation

International Business Machines


Johnson & Johnson

Lotus Development Corporation

McCann-Erickson Worldwide

NY Times/Globe

Sun Microsystems

Televisa s.a. de c.v.

Thomson Newspapers Corporation

Tribune Company

Things That Think (TTT)

American Greetings Corporation

AMP, Inc.

Analog Devices, Inc.

ASCII Corporation

AT&T Corp.

Becton Dickinson and Company

Brother Industries, Ltd.

Creative Technology, Ltd.

Deutsche Telekom AG


Federal Express Corporation

The Gillette Company

Hewlett-Packard Company

Interval Research Corporation

Karstadt AG

The LEGO Group

Levi Strauss & Co.

Lord Corporation

MasterCard International

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.

Swatch AG

Symbol Technologies, Inc.

Telia Research AB

3Com Corporation

Trimble Navigation Limited

United Technologies Corporation

VISA International


Walt Disney Imagineering

YAMAHA Corporation

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)




Compaq Computer Corporation

Gemini Consulting

Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.


Scitex Corporation, Ltd.

J. Sainsbury plc


AMP, Inc.

ATR Media Integration & Communications

Research Laboratories

AT&T Corp.

Bay Networks, Inc.

Digital Equipment Corporation

FORE Systems, Inc.


Interlego A/S

Interval Research Corporation

Mitsubishi Electric

Motorola, Inc.


Silicon Graphics, Inc.

Telecom Italia


Brain Opera

Ars Electronica Center

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,


NTT Data


Rudge and Nancy Allen

Asahi Broadcasting Corporation

AT&T Corp.

Armand and Celeste Bartos

Alex Dreyfoos, Jr.

Fukutake Publishing

Interlego A/S

LG Electronics, Inc.

Misawa Homes





Philippe Villers

Muriel R. Cooper Memorial
DDP Digital Publishing, Inc.
Origin/Media Lab BV

Sarah Dickinson Memorial Fund

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97