SMART PLANET Q&A: Kent Larson, director, MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group

This interview from

By Christina Hernandez Sherwood | April 8, 2013, 3:00 AM PDT

From an electric bicycle that could help the disabled commute more efficiently to a tiny apartment that can fit both a king size bed and a dinner party, Kent Larson develops technologies to make cities more livable. As director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Changing Places group, Larson focuses on responsive urban housing, new urban vehicles and ubiquitous technologies.
I spoke with Larson recently about why everyone should care about cities and hosting a party for 10 in a 250-square-foot apartment. Below are excerpts from our interview.

Why do you care about the design of cities? Are you a lifelong city resident?

I lived and worked in New York City for about 18 years. It’s in my blood. New York is one of the great cities of the world. On top of that, traveling in Latin America, India and China, it becomes painfully obvious how badly the cities are developing in these areas that are rapidly urbanizing. It’s so critical to the health of the planet that we figure out better ways to build these cities. They’re basically following the dysfunctional model we developed here in the U.S. in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The U.S. and Europe are developing more sophisticated models and these developing areas are stuck in the past.

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