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Beam Me Up, Barbie

By Josie GlausiuszSeptember 1, 2000 5:00 AM


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Barbara Barry is dismayed by the technological toys marketed to girls: makeover software, fake pink laptops designed for Barbie-lovers, and the like. Barry, an artist based at MIT's Media Lab, thinks she can do better. She created StoryBeads, wearable computers that can be strung together into a necklace. Each unit can store both images and text— snapshots from a digital camera, for instance, or a poem downloaded from a home PC. Infrared transmitters on the StoryBeads can beam data back and forth, while a small screen on the central "amulet" displays the collected words and pictures. Barry hopes girls will trade the beads or thread them together to create ever-changing stories, and look inside to see how they work. "This will lead girls to see that technology is a flexible thing that can be useful to them," says Barry.

Photo by Barbara Bary/MIT


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