MIT Media Lab

I worked at the MIT Media Lab from 1984-1988 as a paid undergraduate researcher. During that time I completed seven semesters of research plus my undergraduate thesis. My work was supervised by Professors Patrick Purcell, Glorianna Davenport, and Merrill Smith.

I worked on a number of projects during that time. Highlights are listed here.

Interactive laser discs (1984-1985)

Back when the Media Lab was still known as the Architecture Machine Group, I worked on a number of interactive multimedia applications using computer-controlled laser video discs.

Among other projects, I developed the interactive front-end for an extraordinary videodisc project by PhD student Peter Jorgensen exploring the architecture of famed Barcelona architect Antonio Gaudí.

RF-delivered news streams (1985)

1n 1985 the Media Lab participated in an experiment with local Boston radio stations to piggyback a low-data-rate ASCII news feed onto some unused sideband bandwidth in normal FM radio channels.

The Media Lab was given a couple of receivers for these signals, and I wrote software to gather, parse, categorize, and store the incoming news feed items on rewriteable optical discs.

Teaching Assistant (1986)

In 1986, as a sophomore, I served as the teaching assistant for a graduate-level C-programming class for students in the architecture department.

I supervised programming labs, designed and graded problem sets, tutored students, and delivered two class lectures.

On-demand image delivery (IP/UHF hybrid solution) (1986-1987)

Working under Merrill Smith of the Architecture Department Visual Collections Library, I spent several semesters designing and implementing various phases of an experimental system to deliver still images on demand from the library to remotely located learners.

The system married two existing MIT networks: the IP network for requests between the requestor’s client and the server, and the UHF (private cable TV) network for delivering the images. The images themselves (about 51,000 of them) were digitized and stored on a laser video disc controlled by the server and hooked in to the UHF system.

The result was that any student at any MIT lab that had IP access and a campus cable TV hookup could search an annotated database of thousands of architectural and graphical images.

During the second semester of work on the project, I received a grant from the Council for Library Information Resources to cover my stipend to continue the research.

3D rendering of textured models captured from life (1988)

I designed, and built a system that began with a 3D model of an actual building and then added pictures of the same building from a known 6-dimesional coordinate position and camera angle. My program populated a textural database of the faces of the building by extracting textures from the still images, and then using a high-end 3D workstation, a user could rotate and move around the model in near-real-time, viewing textures in place on the digital model.

The spatial-mapping technology foreseen by this project is similar to techniques now used in many movie-industry special effects programs and in other industries.

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on this project (December 1988), and the thesis was tied for third place (honorable mention) in the annual MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Thesis competition (June 1989).