Solar panels: Great idea if you're a spaceship, not so good anywhere it gets dark. There are some ways around this limitation, but MIT had a better idea: they invented a photovoltaic panel that doesn't need sunlight at all, and they've built it into a button-sized generator that can run your smartphone for a week straight.
The last few invisibility cloaks we've seen have relied on metamaterials to make tiny objects invisible to a specific wavelength of light. This "carpet cloak," from MIT, uses some calcite crystals to make much larger objects disappear in the visible spectrum.
We generally expect computers to give us precise and accurate answers every time, all the time. After all, that's why computers are computers. But as it turns out, if we cut them a little bit of slack in the accuracy department, we can easily make them a thousand times faster.
Well, this is nuts: engineers at MIT have developed a camera that can capture images of things not in its field of view. Yes, it's a camera that can see around corners, no mirrors involved.
MIT grad student Ming-Zher Poh has managed to give the humble webcam a beefy functionality upgrade without too much extra work. In fact, your webcam could tell how healthy your heart is just by looking at you.
Clean up the Gulf in just one month, you say? A claim like that would normally have us rolling our eyes, save for the fact that we heard two magic words: "MIT" and "robots." Lots and lots of robots, all soaking up oil using a special technique.
MIT's "Copenhagen Wheel," designed by the university's SENSEable City Lab, is designed to be a simple addition to any bike that will give it some electric assistant. The benefits are obvious, and it's scored MIT's design an award from James Dyson, the vacuum king.
Sometimes, gaming companies inject a little oomph into video game controllers. Vibration, motion control and — if it catches on — 3D are all designed to draw the player in more. Now, MIT adds to one more ploy to that list: heat.
What happens when you let engineers into the kitchen? They completely reinvent the way cooking is done, at least judging by these concept kitchen devices by the MIT Media Lab.
You know how on Star Trek Captain Picard is always going up to his replicator and coming away with tea, mug and all? Well, MIT's "Cornucopia" food printer won't create the plate, but it is designed to build you a meal from the ground up to exact specifications.