As head of the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group, Pattie Maes researches the tools we use to work with information and connect with one another.

Why you should listen

Pattie Maes was the key architect behind what was once called "collaborative filtering" and has become a key to Web 2.0: the immense engine of recommendations -- or "things like this" -- fueled by other users. In the 1990s, Maes' Software Agents program at MIT created Firefly, a technology (and then a startup sold to Microsoft) that let users choose songs they liked, and find similar songs they'd never heard of, by taking cues from others with similar taste. This brought a sea change in the way we interact with software, with culture and with one another.

Now Maes is working on a similarly boundary-breaking initiative. She founded Fluid Interfaces Group, also part of the MIT Media Lab, to rethink the ways in which humans and computers interact, partially by redefining both human and computer. In Maes' world (and really, in all of ours), the computer is no longer a distinct object, but a source of intelligence that's embedded in our environment. By outfitting ourselves with digital accessories, we can continually learn from (and teach) our surroundings. The uses of this tech -- from healthcare to home furnishings, warfare to supermarkets -- are powerful and increasingly real. <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} -->

What others say

“We like to invent new disciplines or look at new problems, and invent bandwagons rather than jump on them.” — Pattie Maes, Digital Journal

Pattie Maes’ TED talk

Pattie Maes on the TED Blog

Technology

An interview with Pranav Mistry, the genius behind Sixth Sense

March 11, 2009

Pranav Mistry is the MIT grad student behind Sixth Sense, a tool that connects the physical world with the world of data. He and his advisor at the MIT Media Lab, Pattie Maes, unveiled Sixth Sense at TED2009, and the Sixth Sense demo premiered yesterday on TED.com — and in both places, it has fired […]

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Technology

Pattie Maes demos the Sixth Sense on TED.com

March 10, 2009

This demo, from Pattie Maes‘ lab at MIT (and spearheaded by her student Pranav Mistry), was the buzz of TED2009. Sixth Sense is a wearable device with a projection screen that paves the way for profound, data-rich interaction with our environment. Imagine Minority Report and then some. (Recorded in February 2009 in Long Beach, California. […]

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