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Student project promises a digital Halloween

Live actors and digital media will be calling forth the spirits of Boston's Old Granary Burying Ground on Halloween, thanks to an innovative tour created by Michael Epstein, a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow and graduate student in the Comparative Media Studies program, and the Freedom Trail Foundation.

"I'm working on how people can use mobile devices such as cell phones and PocketPCs as storytelling devices," Epstein explained. "Rather than replacing the human element, this type of media complements it. I believe this is the first 'hybrid' use of mobile devices alongside live actors to learn and enjoy a historic landmark."

Tour-test participants will be led around the Tremont Street site by historically dressed "spirits" of the famous figures buried there. At the same time, they will use networked PocketPCs that will "act like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, driving the performance onward and encouraging audience participation," he said.

Other applications for this technology include cell phone integration in guided tours, neighborhood development projects and theater. Epstein plans to apply some of his findings from the Granary tour to a large-scale mobile technology project in Venice, Italy.

Tours are scheduled on Halloween (Friday, Oct. 31) and Saturday, Nov. 1. For information on participating, e-mail Epstein at m_e@mit.edu.

Free flu shots available at MIT Medical

MIT Medical is providing free flu shots by appointment to the MIT community through Friday, Nov. 7. The shots are free to all registered MIT students and to the families of students who have joined the MIT Student and Affiliate Medical Plan. Flu shots are also free to employees who are members of the MIT Health Plan or the MIT Affiliate Health Plan, and to retirees with Medicare Part B.

A fee of $10 is charged to other benefits-eligible employees at MIT, Lincoln Lab, Whitehead and Draper; all other members of the MIT community will be charged $25. To schedule an appointment, call 253-4865. Shots are given on the fourth floor of Building E23.

Lemelson prize seeks student applicants

The Lemelson-MIT Program invites MIT students to apply for the annual $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventiveness before the Jan. 9 deadline. All currently enrolled MIT seniors and graduate students are eligible, regardless of major or area of study.

Past Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners have garnered national media coverage from MSNBC, the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, Tech TV and others. James McLurkin, the 2003 winner, was the subject of two CNN Headline News spots and a feature on CNN's "Cool Science," in addition to a two-page profile in Newsday. The winner in 2002, Andrew Heafitz, won a contract with the U.S. Air Force after appearing on Tech TV as a result of winning the prize.

Interested students must complete a one-page application and attach a description (1,000 words maximum) of their inventiveness while at MIT, two letters of recommendation and a resume. Supporting photos or diagrams may also be included in the application, which can be downloaded at http://web.mit.edu/invent/a-student.html. Students may also request an application by contacting the Lemelson-MIT program officer, Michael McNally, at 253-3490 or mmcnally@mit.edu.

The winner will be announced at a press conference on Feb. 19.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 2003.


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