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Programmable Window

A huge electronic display on a skyscraper facade can be interesting to passing pedestrians, but if you’re inside the building it simply blocks your view. Researchers at MIT’s Media Laboratory and Department of Urban Studies and Planning are developing a transparent display that doesn’t entirely block incoming light. The group is adapting a commercially available film used in electronic window shades, a high-tech alternative to blinds or curtains that lightens and darkens when electricity is applied and removed. The display will be a matrix of small separate pieces of the film. A grid of tiny wires will connect the pieces to a computer, which will be able to compose letters and figures in gray-scale patterns. Because the film at its darkest blocks only 40 percent of incoming light, and because only some of the pieces in the matrix will be darkened at any given time, people sitting behind the display will still be able to see out. Project coordinator Carlo Ratti says the technology might be seen on the streets within a year.

Other Prototypes:
Videoconferencing by the Numbers

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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