Skip to Content

Pad Power

While computers have gotten faster and software fancier, the humble mousepad has remained happily low-tech. But researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory are now converting the unassuming slabs of foam into information-input devices. The Media Lab’s “smart mousepad” (which draws power from the keyboard connector) reads information from a simple electronic tag that can be implanted in a variety of objects.

After the mousepad reads the tag, software connects to an online database to find out what to do. Consumer goods might pull up manufacturers’ Web sites. Setting a tagged bottle of medicine on the pad, for example, could call up the drug company’s Web page, offering more information about the medication than is included with the packaging. The Media Lab’s Henry Holtzman imagines his 3-year-old using tagged tokens to call up online images of her favorite things.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.