Class project: Sixth Sense Technology by Pranav Mistry
You can carry your digital world with you wherever you go. You can start using any surface, any wall around you, as an interface. The camera is actually tracking all your gestures.Whatever you’re doing with your hands, it’s understanding that gesture. And, actually, if you see, there are some color markers that in the beginning version we are using with it. You can start painting on any wall. You stop by a wall, and start painting on that wall. But we are not only tracking one finger, here. We are giving you the freedom of using all of both of your hands, so you can actually use both of your hands to zoom into or zoom out of a map just by pinching all present. The camera is actually doing — just, getting all the images — is doing the edge recognition and also the color recognition and so many other small algorithms are going on inside. So, technically, it’s a little bit complex, but it gives you an output which is more intuitive to use, in some sense.
But I’m more excited that you can actually take it outside. Rather than getting your camera out of your pocket, you can just do the gesture of taking a photo and it takes a photo for you.
And later I can find a wall, anywhere, and start browsing those photos or maybe, “OK, I want to modify this photo a little bit and send it as an email to a friend.” So, we are looking for an era wherecomputing will actually merge with the physical world. And, of course, if you don’t have any surface,you can start using your palm for simple operations. Here, I’m dialing a phone number just using my hand. The camera is actually not only understanding your hand movements, but, interestingly, is also able to understand what objects you are holding in your hand.
What we’re doing here is actually — for example, in this case, the book cover is matched with so many thousands, or maybe millions of books online, and checking out which book it is. Once it has that information, it finds out more reviews about that, or maybe New York Times has a sound overview on that, so you can actually hear, on a physical book,a review as sound. (“famous talk at Harvard University …”)
This was Obama’s visit last week to MIT. (“… and particularly I want to thank two outstanding MIT …”)So, I was seeing the live of his talk, outside, on just a newspaper. Your newspaper will show you live weather information rather than having it updated — like, you have to check your computer in order to do that, right?
When I’m going back, I can just use my boarding pass to check how much my flight has been delayed, because at that particular time, I’m not feeling like opening my iPhone, and checking out a particular icon. And I think this technology will not only change the way — Yes. (Laughter) It will change the way we interact with people, also, not only the physical world. The fun part is, I’m going to the Boston metro, and playing a pong game inside the train on the ground, right? (Laughter) And I think the imagination is the only limit of what you can think of when this kind of technology merges with real life.
But many of you argue, actually, that all of our work is not only about physical objects. We actually do lots of accounting and paper editing and all those kinds of things; what about that? And many of you are excited about the next generation tablet computers to come out in the market. So, rather than waiting for that, I actually made my own, just using a piece of paper. So, what I did here is remove the camera — All the webcam cameras have a microphone inside the camera. I removed the microphone from that, and then just pinched that — like I just made a clip out of the microphone — and clipped that to a piece of paper, any paper that you found around. So now the sound of the touch is getting me when exactly I’m touching the paper. But the camera is actually tracking where my fingers are moving.
You can of course watch movies. (“Good afternoon. My name is Russell …”) (“… and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54.”)
And you can of course play games. (Car engine)Here, the camera is actually understanding how you’re holding the paper and playing a car-racing game. (Applause)
Many of you already must have thought, OK, you can browse. Yeah. Of course you can browse to any websites or you can do all sorts of computing on a piece of paper wherever you need it. So, more interestingly, I’m interested in how we can take that in a more dynamic way. When I come back to my desk I can just pinch that information back to my desktop so I can use my full-size computer.
And why only computers? We can just play with papers. Paper world is interesting to play with.Here, I’m taking a part of a document and putting over here a second part from a second place –and I’m actually modifying the information that I have over there. Yeah. And I say, “OK, this looks nice, let me print it out, that thing.” So I now have a print-out of that thing, and now — The workflow is more intuitive the way we used to do it maybe 20 years back, rather than now switching between these two worlds.
So, as a last thought, I think that integrating information to everyday objects will not only help us to get rid of the digital divide, the gap between these two worlds, but will also help us, in some way, to stay human, to be more connected to our physical world. And it will help us, actually, not be machines sitting in front of other machines.
That’s all. Thank you.
Chris Anderson: So, Pranav, first of all, you’re a genius. This is incredible, really. What are you doing with this? Is there a company being planned? Or is this research forever, or what?
Pranav Mistry: So, there are lots of companies –actually sponsor companies of Media Lab –interested in taking this ahead in one or another way. Companies like mobile phone operatorswant to take this in a different way than the NGOs in India, [who] are thinking, “Why can we only have ‘Sixth Sense’? We should have a ‘Fifth Sense’ for missing-sense people who cannot speak. This technology can be used for them to speak out in a different way with maybe a speaker system.”
CA: What are your own plans? Are you staying at MIT, or are you going to do something with this?
PM: I’m trying to make this more available to people so that anyone can develop their own SixthSense device because the hardware is actually not that hard to manufacture, or hard to make your own. We will provide all the open source software for them, maybe starting next month.
CA: Open source? Wow.
CA: Are you going to come back to India with some of this, at some point?
PM: Yeah. Yes, yes, of course.
CA: What are your plans? MIT? India? How are you going to split your time going forward?
PM: There is a lot of energy here. Lots of learning.All of this work that you have seen is all about my learning in India. And now, if you see more about the cost-effectiveness: this system costs you 300 dollars compared to the 20,000 dollar surface tables, or anything like that. Or maybe even the two-dollar mouse gesture system at that time was costing around 5,000 dollars? So, we actually — I showed that, at a conference, to President Abdul Kalam, at that time, and then he said, “OK, we should use this in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for some use of that.” So I’m excited about how I can bring the technology to the massesrather than just keeping that technology in the lab environment.
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