MIT researchers design a digital ‘sixth sense’

February 5, 2009

MIT researchers design a digital 'sixth sense' Researchers combined a mobile projector with a webcam and mobile phone to create a device that draws information from the environment. The wearer can also interact with the sixth sense device using touch gestures on nearly any surface.

The researchers showed off the sixth sense device at this year’s Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. While the gadget is not being primed for mass release, it represents a forward-thinking way of blending technology with our environment.

The sixth sense gadget’s projector can turn anything into a touch screen and captures input via the webcam. The wearer can draw a circle on his or her wrist and the device will project a digital clock face.

The gadget can also take pictures of the wearer’s surrounding with very simple prompts. All the user has to do is frame out an area and the webcam will snap a frame.

MIT’s latest device can also provide additional information about a wearer’s surroundings. The gadget recognizes products on store shelves and can provide product and price comparison information.

The device can also retrieve flight information simply by viewing a plane ticket to let the wearer know about delays. When reading magazine articles, the device automatically pulls up related information from the Web.

The sixth sense device was cobbled together from common parts costing just $300. At the heart of the device is a smartphone that uses an Internet connection to retrieve information.

In addition, the device turns nearly any surface into a touch screen. If nothing else is available, the wearer can even project a screen onto a hand.

MIT researcher Patty Maes says, “It can really let you connect as a sixth sense device with whatever is in front of you.” Even better it lets people leverage the power of technology in ways that are lightweight and very natural.

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13 Responses to “MIT researchers design a digital ‘sixth sense’”

  1. James Keane:

    I see dead people. Actually, this is more like a terminator in-eye display, showing information about the enviroment. I can see where this is heading, and all I can say is Nooooooo….

  2. Jared:

    This is gay. I want some more crackers.

  3. guitarMan666:

    This is the coolest thing i’ve ever friggin seen! I want info on how to build one (mostly the software involved).

  4. Zarmanto:

    This is a glimpse at the future, peeps. Think: heads up display, built into a pair of apparently unassuming eyeglasses, with a tiny camera built into the frame… this turns your entire world into a 3D website. I soooooooo want one!

  5. Rich:

    This is indeed a glimpse of the future. In fact, engineers have even been working on contact lenses with embedded virtual displays (Source:

  6. Jared:

    Sorry, I meant I am gay. But I still want more crackers.

  7. JaredIsDespicable:

    Jared, your comments are offensive and despicable. Stop pushing your (im)morality on the rest of us normal people.

  8. JaredIsDespicableIsDespicable:

    Stop pushing your bigotry and idea of ‘normality’ on the rest of us varied human beings.

  9. Aryan Tech:

    This technology is even build in INDIA by a graduate computer science student – Amit Pate.
    The device designed by him is more compact & has an additional application of Calculator on Hand. (Even before Pranav makes it Open Source)


    Its shows that its not just MIT or IITs that can build such devices. Talent & Technology is deeply rooted in INDIA.

  10. nasiru amnu:

    diz iz ma drim guyz plz make it happen 4 me, wud like softwarez nd photos on hw i can make mine, i so much like computin but diz iz da bomb plz help.

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