The Viral Communications group researches the intersection of mobile networks with physical spaces. We develop both the basic technology of proximal networks as well as applications that demonstrate the value of wireless local interactions. These span transactional activities, emergent social styles, and transforming localized experience into learning activities and team endeavors. We try to transform the space around us and the organizations in which we operate into vivid, self revealing places that engage rather than distract us. We devote special energy to infrastructure-free communications that scale and function when central access is unavailable or costly. We also develop basic technologies that allow direct interaction with the things around us like objects and displays using sensing and effecting devices that are already in or amenable to being embedded in mobile and portable devices.



Andrew Lippman

Principal Investigator

Andrew Lippman has a more than 35-year history at MIT. His work at the Media Lab has ranged from wearable computers to global digital television. Currently, he heads the Lab's Viral Communications research group, which examines scalable, real-time networks whose capacity increases with the number of members. This new approach to telephony, sensor interconnection, and broadcasting transfers "mainframe communications" technology to distributed, personally defined, cooperative communicators. In addition, he co-directs MIT's interdisciplinary Communications Futures program. Lippman has directed research programs on digital pictures, personal computers, entertainment, and graphics, and he has served on advisory boards of technology start-ups. Currently, he is on the science councils of both non-profit and for-profit companies addressing global information infrastructures. Lippman received both his BS and MS in electrical engineering from MIT. In 1995 he completed his PhD studies at the EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Jeremy RubinUROP for life2014
Dan SawadaMS2014
Jonathan SpeiserMS2014
Eyal ToledanoMS2013
Polychronis YpodimatopoulosMS, PhD2013
Grace WooMS, PhD2012
Dawei ShenMS, PhD2012
Julia MaMS2012
Matt BlackshawMS2012
Boris KizelshteynMS2011
Kwan Hong LeePhD2011
Hector YuenMS2006


A collection of historical projects, tweets, and memorabilia.

Word of Lip


For general questions and interests, please contact the group administrator:
Deb Widener

How to Apply

Graduate Students

If you are interested in the Media Lab Master's or PhD program, please visit the Media Lab admissions page and the MIT admissions page. All applications must go through the Media Lab.


If you are interested in doing a UROP with the Viral Communications group, please contact the group member whose work best aligns with your interests. More information about the UROP program can be found on the MIT UROP page.