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Media Lab Receives $5 million from Motorola, Inc.

By Zareena Hussain

Motorola Inc. has announced a $5 million grant to be used towards the creation of a DigitalDNA Laboratory to be housed in the MIT Media Lab.

Focussing on embedded solutions -- the computers that control cars, coffeemakers, and other pieces of technology-- the new lab will work to make sure that all of these technologies are able to communicate with one another.

“Motorola, the world’s leading organization in embedded technologies, is joining forces with MIT to create solutions once thought impossible,” said Hector de J. Ruiz, president of Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector. “Through our combined efforts, the impact will be swift and far-reaching.”

The DigitalDNA laboratory will be one of the laboratories located in a new building to be constructed adjacent to the Media Lab on the site of building E10 which currently houses the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

The addition is slated to open in 2003. In the meantime, the DigitalDNA lab will be housed in the basement of the Weisner Building, the current Media Lab home.

“The Motorola DigitalDNA Laboratory is an excellent extension of our Things That Think research consortium,” said Professor Nicholas Negroponte ’66, director of the Media Lab. “Through this new partnership, we’ll continue to create technologies that help make everyday life easier. The current ‘cacophony’ of independent gadgets and appliances will evolve into a seamless society of intelligent mechanisms. For example, phones won’t ring. They’ll behave like well-trained English butlers, knowing when -- and when not -- to interrupt you, with the full understanding of who’s calling, and maybe even why.”

The Things That Think research consortium focuses on the study of finding ways of introducing computing intelligence into everyday products.

Media Lab centers on corporate

Motorola has been a major Media Lab sponsor since 1994 and has invested in general research at MIT for the past forty years.

Over 90 percent of the Media Lab’s funding comes from corporate sponsorship. The lab has an annual operating budget of $30 million not including capital expenses.

Professor Negroponte serves on the Board of Directors for Motorola Inc. The Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Negroponte and Jerome Weisner.

Current research activities at the Media Lab include the development of wearable computers, audio notebooks that can synchronize note taking with the speaker’s voice, as well as research into human computer interfaces.