TED: 9 Ideas From Technology Entertainment and Design

Predictions for the Future

The first TED Conference happened in February 1984, just one month after Steve Jobs introduced the first Mac. At TED1, Nicholas Negroponte predicted five things that were about to change forever ... including classroom education, filmmaking, and even the act of reading a book: "As I read, I can get a definition by just touching the word." He also lays out plans for the soon-to-be-built MIT Media Lab, a place to study and make technology for entertainment, design, education and daily life.

Compact Discs

On the TED stage in 1984, Sony exec Mickey Schulhof held up a small, shiny plastic circle. The digital audio disc, or "compact disc," offered scratchproof, efficient and entirely digital storage for music. "You only play one side," Schulhof was careful to point out to the audience whose frame of reference was the vinyl LP. Schulhof's talk also included an intriguing mention of an early digital camera, Sony's Mavica.

PHOTO: TED: 9 Ideas From Technology Entertainment and Design
Robert Leslie
Multi-Touch Screens

The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 wasn't the first time the world saw the multitouch screen and the virtual keyboard. At TED2006, Jeff Han, a researcher at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, demonstrated his intuitive, even gasp-inducing multi-touch computer screen. While touchscreen tech was not novel (Negroponte even hinted at it in 1984), Han introduced a high-resolution, touch-sensing screen that can be manipulated with multiple fingertips.

PHOTO: TED: 9 Ideas From Technology Entertainment and Design
James Duncan Davidson
Microsoft's Kinect onstage at TEDGlobal.
Microsoft and Kinect

In summer 2010, Microsoft unveiled Xbox Kinect's capabilities at TEDGlobal with a demo of Milo, a game that let players interact and play with a digital boy. The Xbox's depth-sensing pattern-recognition technology -- powered by your body, not by a traditional game controller -- imitated reality to an unnerving degree. When Kinect hit the market the following month, it claimed the Guinness World Record of being the "fastest selling consumer electronics device," selling 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market.

PHOTO: Google executives Eric, Larry and Sergey in a self-driving car.
Google's Self-Driving Car

Google took the TED2011 audience for a wild ride with its self-driving car. Attendees lined up for a rare firsthand demonstration inside the autonomous car, which is capable of highway speeds and tire-squealing turns without a human at the wheel. Passengers program their destination into the car, and the car calculates the route, senses traffic conditions, even avoids collisions. It's straight out of sci fi, but the goal is to save lives: the majority of traffic accidents, it turns out, are caused by human error. Google's self-driving car has already driven from San Francisco to Los Angeles with no one inside.

PHOTO: A screen grab from Google Earth is shown.
Google Earth

Thanks to Google Earth, you can explore the world in 3D from anywhere, or travel from Stockholm to the corner of your block at satellite height -- or street level. This revolutionary product was demonstrated at TED in 2002, when it was known as Keyhole, using groundbreaking software called EarthViewer that built a comprehensive compilation of satellite photos to give us a new view of our planet. (And when Google Ocean launched in April 2010, it featured ocean data from 2009 TED Prize winner Sylvia Earle.)

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Ushahidi - A Platform for On-theGround News During a Crisis

Plenty of deals and partnerships have started at TED -- to name two, Wired magazine was born in a hallway meeting, and the seeds of Twitter were sown. Ushahidi is a group project born from friendships among TED Fellows who met in 2007 at TEDAfrica in Tanzania. A Kenyan writer, Ory Okolloh, asked these Fellows to imagine a new way to report on fast-breaking crisis in places without traditional media. A weekend of coding produced Ushahidi, now the standard for collecting and reporting news via cellphone in the first days of a crisis -- from Kenya's 2008 post-election violence to last year's Deepwater Horizon spill.

PHOTO: TED: 9 Ideas From Technology Entertainment and Design
rtfMRI: Real-Time Functional MRI

What if we could see our brains in action? At TED2008, neuroscientist Christopher deCharms demonstrated a new kind of MRI called rtfMRI, for "real-time functional MRI," which shows visual representations of brain processes as they occur. This technology can be used to treat patients with chronic pain -- by visualizing pain, patients can learn to control it. DeCharms has said the technology will allow us to "train and build our minds as systematically as a weightlifter builds a muscle."

First Photos of Saturn

Onstage in 2007, planetary scientist Carolyn Porco presented the first photos of Saturn's moons -- and a glorious view of the Earth from outer orbits. The electric-blue images were the first time the world saw Saturn's rings in three dimensions. As the head of the imaging team for NASA's Cassini orbiter, Porco detailed two major areas of discovery: the exploration of Saturnian moons Titan and Enceladus. At TED in 2009, she mused on whether Saturn's moons -- with water -- could even harbor life.

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