Pattie Maes (and Pranav Mistry): Unveiling game-changing wearable tech


Pattie Maes is a professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences. She founded and directed the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group. Previously, she founded and ran the Software Agents group. She currently acts as the associate Department Head for the Media, Arts and Sciences Department. 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.


Pattie talked about the limitations of current computer technology – that it is impractical to Google a person or product every time you see it. Wearable technology can do this for you. She showed off an array of items that cost less than $350, including a camera, wearable projector, mirror, phone, and colourful caps on fingers. Using this, you can walk up to any wall and begin using a computer – with the camera tracking any gestures they make by recognising their fingernails. Even without a wall, you can project onto your hand – eg as a simple dialling pad for a phone.

Pattie shows some examples of

  • shopping for paper towels, with reviews and product information projected to each one.
  • Buying a book, you can see a total star review on the front cover. When turning the page you can see user comments, when turning again you can see annotations from professionals.
  • When talking to someone, a ‘tag cloud’ can be projected onto their Tshirt. This can show traits that person is known for, or information from blogs associated with them.
  • by looking at your boarding pass you can see if the flight is delayed or gate changed
  • draw on your wrist to project the time

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