Aubrey Simonson

MIT Department: Media Arts and Sciences

Undergraduate Institution: Wellesley College

Faculty Mentor: Michael Bove

Research Supervisor: Pedro  Antonio Colon-Hernandez

Websites: LinkedIn

2018 Research Poster


I’m an undergraduate student from Central New York, majoring in Political Science and Media Arts and Sciences at Wellesley College.  I’m primarily interested in virtual reality as a new means of communication. In the long-term, I care about establishing the grammar of what interaction in and with virtual reality content will look like.  I am also interested in digitizing and archiving particularly challenging objects (architectural features have been a favorite) through forms such as photogrammetry.  My favorite way to spend my free time is boardgames.

2018 Research Abstract

8KLibraries: A Digital Interface for Analog Libraries

Aubrey Simonson1, Pedro Colon-Hernandez3 and Dr. Michael Bove3

1Department of Media Arts and Sciences, Wellesley College

 3Department of Media Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The birth of the internet, and the later growth of machine learning and hyper-targeted advertising, have changed the way that we interact with information.  While they make it easy to find the content which you are looking for via search engines, they make it hard to stumble across totally unfamiliar content.  Machine learning and hyper-targeted advertising in particular tend to also reinforce pre-existing biases, by showing users content which is similar to that which they have already interacted with.  Analog libraries are unable to hyper-target content, by virtue of the fact that they show the same information to each user.  They also allow the user to interact with totally unfamiliar information by simply walking into an unfamiliar place, and group information by topic in a manner which allows for organic exploration, rather than specific searches.  However, because they are full-sized buildings, libraries are expensive to maintain.  8KLibrary exploits the resolution and size of an 8K display and the gesture-recognition capabilities of the Microsoft Kinect to make a virtual re-creation of an analog library. The screen we develop our application on is large enough (85”) to explore a to-scale virtual space, and the high-resolution permits the display of a large quantity of legible text.   This project is a proof-of-concept which attempts to replicate the role of an entire, open-stack public library building. If the application successfully achieves this, it can be a viable way to present the type of information exploration available in libraries in a broader variety of environments.