The author: Until recently Moss was the director of MIT’s famed Media Lab, the interdisciplinary incubator of such innovations as an e-reader, LEGO Mindstorms robotic toys, and child-safe airbags. Today he is a professor of the practice at the MIT Media Lab, where he heads the new media medicine group. An entrepreneur in the software and computer industries, Moss was CEO and chairman of the software maker Tivoli Systems and cofounder of companies including Infinity Pharmaceuticals and his latest startup venture, Bluefin Labs.
The book: Moss takes readers on a tour of the MIT Media Lab, introducing them to the inventors and their innovative projects and “how they grew out of an environment that totally defies the conventional wisdom of what a research lab ‘should be.’” Among the technologies in development that he explores are Nexi, a mobile humanoid robot that can serve as a companion for the sick and elderly, and SixthSense, a compact wearable device that transforms any surface into a touch-screen computer.
Review: “At times, the tour proceeds at an almost frenetic pace, and the reader can almost hear Mr. Moss leading the visitor through the glass-walled building with an infectious enthusiasm for the stories of its occupants and contents, much of which exists in the form of the models and prototypes for which the lab is famous,” wrote Henry Petroski of The Wall Street Journal. “Moss takes us behind the scenes in the days before ‘hell week,’ as students work around the clock readying their presentations. For the students it is ‘demo or die’ time, and just about everything — housekeeping, laundry, personal care, sleep — takes a backseat to the project.”