Return to Communications Center

How to Think Like an MIT Media Lab Inventor | Ramesh Raskar

Innovating at the highest level takes the right attitude. “Be unsatisfied with how you see the world,” says MIT Media Lab’s Ramesh Raskar. “Where there are problems, see solutions. Where there are solutions, see problems.”

Innovating also takes constant tinkering, collaboration and even sharing ideas with your family. While working on a new barcode, Raskar, who has headed the Camera Culture Research Group since 2008, shared a design with family members. In recognizing that some could see certain parts of the image while others could not, this collaboration resulted in an attachment for a smartphone that replaces expensive and cumbersome optometry equipment. This smart-phone based solution is now being used for providing diagnostic services in developing countries.

In his TEDxBeaconStreet talk, Raskar outlines the Idea Hexagon, a decision matrix that provides a framework to bring innovation to the next level. Using examples from his own work, including a super high-speed camera capable of showing light in slow motion, he explains how to determine “what is next” for an idea. “It is important to work with people who think differently than you do,” he says. “The more dissimilar they are, the more spectacular the fusion will be.”

“It is important for people to be able to mentally stretch themselves,” Raskar explains.

While some innovations require facilities like the MIT Media Lab to actualize, such as cameras that can see around corners or 3D displays that do not require glasses, others do not. “It is critical to play and build things with your own hands,” he continues. “Learning by doing makes you a strong innovator.”

While Raskar and his MIT Media Lab team are building what many would believe only exists in science fiction, the Idea Hexagon goes beyond technology and explains how every one of us has innate abilities to invent, innovate and solve problems. All we need is the right mental framework to take complex ideas and solutions to the next level.

View the slides for this talk HERE.

Link to Ramesh Raskar’s home page HERE.