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A prominent expert in human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence, Pattie Maes is the founder and former director of MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group, which focuses on designing novel interfaces for making digital information more seamlessly accessible and more integrated in our physical surroundings. Currently Maes serves as the lab’s principal investigator and advisor, and has been involved in such projects as the “Sixth Sense,” an augmented reality technology, which she unveiled during a TED Talk.
Maes’ creativity and technological ventures have earned her several awards including the World Economic Forum’s “Global Leader for Tomorrow” title and a place among Time Digital’s “50 Cyber Elite.” She has published over 100 articles, edited 3 books, and is an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences.
Maes has a rich entrepreneurial background. She was the cofounder of the venture-backed company Firefly Networks, a technology (later 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.
Pattie Maes is the Alexander W. Dreyfoos (1954) Professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and associate head of the Program in Media Arts and Sciences. She founded and directs the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces research group. Previously, she founded and ran the Software Agents group. Prior to joining the Media Lab, Maes was a visiting professor and a research scientist at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab.
She holds bachelor’s and PhD degrees in computer science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. Her areas of expertise are human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence. Maes is the editor of three books, and is an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences. She has received several awards: FastCompany named her one of 50 most influential designers (2011). Newsweek magazine named her one of the “100 Americans to watch for” in the year 2000; TIME Digital selected her as a member of the Cyber-Elite, the top 50 technological pioneers of the high-tech world; the World Economic Forum honored her with the title “Global Leader for Tomorrow”; Ars Electronica awarded her the 1995 World Wide Web category prize; and in 2000 she was recognized with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Massachusetts Interactive Media Council.
She also received an honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. Her 2009 TED talk is among the most watched TED talks ever. In addition to her academic endeavors, Maes has been active as an entrepreneur as cofounder of several venture-backed companies including Firefly Networks (sold to Microsoft) and Open Ratings (sold to Dun & Bradstreet). She remains an advisor and investor to several MIT spinoffs.
Pattie Maes discusses the pioneering work her lab at MIT does to integrate our digital lives into our physical lives, so that information you might look for on the Internet might actually help you when you need it during a real life situation. For example, she says, you may have a social encounter with someone that looks familiar to you, but it would be rather strange if you pulled out your mobile and started searching for that personal on Facebook or LinkedIn when they’re standing in front of you.
She shows footage of the Augmented Reality program her team has created, a wearable gestural interface called “Sixth Sense,” that augments the physical world around users with digital information and lets them use natural hand gestures to interact with that information. “Everything that you pick up can become augmented with relative information and with personal information, which is even more important,” Maes explains, adding that people can even use it to see if their flight is delayed or if their gate has changed.
Pattie Maes’ presentations center around the breakthrough technologies she’s developing in the areas of augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Maes packs each program with footage that seems to belong in a science-fiction movie, but in reality is the work her team is carrying out at MIT Media Lab. The accomplished cyber-genius demonstrates how such technologies will influence our lives and work and what additional advancements are just around the corner.
AR and VR for learning and collaboration
Pattie Maes will talk about the opportunities for Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to radically change the way we learn and collaborate. She will show some of the prototypes of AR and VR based systems that her research group at the MIT Media Laboratory has developed which will affect learning and collaboration in the realm of education as well as business and industry.
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