Read for Later - MIT's Kinetic Blocks, an Amazon Bookstore, and Climate Change Maps

Without a high profile event like Oculus Connect 2 or New York's Comic Con, this week's news seemed a little disjointed. But there are always some gems, like MIT's Kinetic Blocks demonstration or the continued rumors about an Amazon bookstore, that help us continue to look into the future.  
Check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our future work - and let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later.

Assorted Interests

  • Content (gaming, film and TV, health care, education, and social); hardware and distribution (headsets, input devices like handheld controllers, graphics cards, video capture technologies, and online marketplaces); and software platforms and delivery services (content creation tools, capture, production, and delivery software, video game engines, analytics, file hosting and compression tools, and B2B and enterprise uses) will drive growth in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality revenue 
  • Work will help citizens understand how Seattle uses their personal data internally and with outside third-parties and establishes a set of standards that the city can apply to any new technologies that have potential privacy implications
  • MIT's Tangible Media Group, which previously share inFORM a physical display that translates digital data into three-dimensional forms, introduced a new project titled Kinetic Blocks that can construct, deconstruct, and reassemble objects from digital information
  • Offers a look into the interfaces of the future that move past glass screens to tangible pixels
  • Also covered in Fast Company, GizmodoThe Verge and Wired
  • Guilds, which operated as associations of independent craftspeople, setting standards and cultivating lively subcultures around their labor, may be revived as a way to organize in a new era where workers seek flexibility and where work is more freelance in nature 
  • Three new studies with three new partner universities will leverage Apple’s ResearchKit to study autism, epilepsy and melanoma
  • ResearchKit helps scientists collect participant consent, conduct surveys, and assign active tasks to participants that they can perform to help researchers achieve specific study goals
  • Facebook’s research and data science division reports that 6 million of its US users identify as LGBT and that people are more freely expressing their identity on the social network at an increasing rate
  • Online support for LGBT groups is also on the rise - 5.7 million Americans support at least one of the top 300 most popular LGBT pages (Humans Rights Campaign, GLAAD, etc.)  
  • Department of Transportation will announce new plan for a drone registry, bringing stricter order and accountability to the industry after several recent close calls involving remote-controlled drones and commercial aircraft. 

Books, Publishing, and Media

  • Advocates for an “open textbook” culture that cuts the out-of-pocket costs of education significantly
  • With more than 400 million openly licensed materials, the biggest barrier to a sharing economy around college textbooks is adoption from instructors, educational institutions, and government support
  • Blueprints for a site rumored to be Amazon’s first bookstore show what appear to be bookshelves around the edges of the store with display tables and a sales area in the interior – a very tech-centric bookstore that will combine elements of an Apple store and a Barnes & Noble, with areas for browsing books and handling new devices
  • 2nd Circuit Court finds both the search function and the snippet functions to be fair use
  • The court found the search function transformative since “the result of a word search is different in purpose, character, expression, meaning, and message from the page (and the book) from which it is drawn” and the snippet view was transformative as it added value to the search function’s new use—telling researchers whether the book uses the term in a way that would induce her to obtain a copy of the book
  • Also covered in Ars Technica and The Daily Dot
  • An interview with two freelancers whose responsibility it is to generate large amounts of text content that exist solely to promote products or brands and incorporates popular search terms and topics to get their posts at the top of search results


  • MIT’s MakerNurse initiative documents and archives ideas from nurses who make things that help improve patient care (glow-in-the-dark pill bottles, catheter protectors) and enables actual prototyping and development from a makerspace at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston
  • Suggestions for parents and caregivers interested in supporting making – keep fun materials on hand (paper towel rolls, beads, and Velcro); explore Arduino kit, Kano kit, littleBits kit; consider a 3D printer (some as low as $300); or get together with family friends to purchases together and have kids share them as a kind of lending library