May 1, 2009

RR Contest: Reentry and the "Sixth Sense"

Technology geniuses at the MIT Media Lab have created a device they call the "Sixth Sense."

Put down your iPhones, your Kindles, and all other tech gadgets you think put you ahead of the curve. This tool is really something different. Watch the video.

It is a "wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information," according to Pranav Mistry, its creator.

That description doesn't really do justice to what this thing can do: it's worn on the body and combines a camera, projector, and wireless internet, with the ability to detect the motions or gestures made by the person wearing it. It can project onto any surface using the built-in projector and simultaneously get information from the web about the object being seen and project that information back on the object in appropriate manner. Essentially, it's nuts.

Here are some examples of what the Sixth Sense can do: pick up a book at the bookstore, place it in front of the camera, and immediately, the device scans the book title and projects back onto the book a complete review from

Want to know what time it is? Hold up your arm, direct the camera at your wrist, draw the shape of a watch, and the projector projects the time onto your arm.

Want to take a picture of something, but don't have your camera with you? Hold up your fingers in the shape of a square box, and the device will recognize that motion as a signal to take a picture of what's inside the box. Then you can go home, project all of your pictures onto the wall and sort them out into categories.

Curious about the person standing in front of you? Direct the camera in their direction, the internet will pull up a list of tags associated with their name on the web, and the projector will project that information back onto the person.

Again, we urge you to watch the video.

OK, so the question we're posing is this: What does this mean for reentry and criminal justice? THAT is what we'd like to hear from you about. The best idea for how this tool could be applied to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety (judged completely subjectively by our own internal panel of people who write for this blog) will win its own blog feature. Have at it!