Hot and Cold in the Media Lab

The new Media Lab building, E14, was opened in 2009. The beautiful building, designed by the famous architect Fumihiko Maki of Japan, celebrates transparency, creativity and collaboration. The new building has also been equipped with various sensors across all internal spaces.

These sensors allow for a unique point of view into the building. In this article I will focus on temperature readings and will look into the stories entailed in the edge cases: the hottest and coldest spaces in E14.

First, some general statistics. 180 spaces are tracked in E14, every open space, meeting room, personal office and even storage units are monitored. The average temperature is 21.8c, which correlates well with the average thermometer setting : 21.9c. The readings I used were measured at 7pm, April 7th. Looking at the historical data reveals that the temperatures are stable throughout the day.

Warm and Empathetic – Opera of the Future


The highest temperature reading in E14, 24.8c, was from E14-433, The living room for the Opera of the Future group on the upper deck of the Swatch lab. a quick visit to the space reveals that it is indeed warmer than other spaces in the building although being an open space with a thermometer set to 22c. It is quite possible that heat from the entire swatch lab accumulates in this specific point.

Regardless of the reasons, the warmth is well suited for the Opera of the future group. It fits right within the creativity and empathy which guide the group in it’s work.
(waiting for a comment from Tod Machover)

Cold and Mysterious – E14-396T


The lowest temperature reading in E14, 13c, was measured in E14-396T. A mysterious locked door and a room number sign is all the innocent spectator has access to. Although it’s conceivable that behind the door is a storage unit or an electrical breaker box I can’t help but wonder: In the mystical playground that is the media lab, maybe an off the grid experiment is hidden behind that door? one that requires a cool 13c temperature.

Update: According to the Media Lab facilities department this space belongs to MIT IS&T and is dedicated to communications. Intriguingly, no one in the media lab has access to this space. 

About the data: 
All the data was collected through the Responsive Environments Chain API: an open source sensor data aggregation framework:
Media Lab sensors summary: (CSV)
You can also see this data live on project doppellab:



One thought on “Hot and Cold in the Media Lab

  1. Good example of finding stories within your community locus.

    Interesting insights on temperature topography in the MIT Media Lab.

    I think a lead focusing on why this story is important for the community would be nice.

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