Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab Director, Awarded the IRI Medal

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Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab Director, Awarded the IRI Medal

Ito speaks about “antidisciplinary” innovation at IRI Annual Meeting

May 11, 2017 (Boston, MA) – Yesterday, at its annual meeting in Boston, the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) presented the IRI Medal to Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab, honoring his invaluable contributions to technological innovations that create a better future. The award recognizes his lasting impact on both industry and humanity.

Ito and the MIT Media Lab prove how an organization can influence and alter the conversation about technological innovation by focusing on interdisciplinary academic research where technology, multimedia, science, art, and design converge. The Lab pioneered such areas as tangible interfaces, affective computing, expansion microscopy, and bionic prostheses.

For years, its researchers have collaborated to invent—and reinvent—how humans experience, and can be helped by, technology. Now, in its fourth decade, they continue to check traditional disciplines at the door. As its director, Ito is leading that “antidisciplinary” approach.

“The Media Lab started as an engine for reinvention,” said John B. Hillenbrand, Jr., IRI Chairman and Vice President of R&D at Armstrong Flooring. “Joi is pushing that reinvention even further. His vision, energy, and dedication to changing the world in positive ways are evident in his actions. We are honored for the opportunity to recognize his work and contributions to technology.”

Ito and the Media Lab defy twentieth-century assumptions about research and development. In the past, a lab was often seen as a closed academic environment focused on a specific discipline or research problem, or as a resource for large companies that could afford to own and operate the machinery necessary to make technology effective for commercialization.

"Not anymore," says Ito. "Greater transparency, along with advances in manufacturing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning–plus tools such as the Internet and 3D printing–are enabling us to reshape the technology landscape in exciting and powerful ways." This "antidisciplinary" perspective is forging a new path of innovation for companies, and Ito encourages everyone to open up their business models to include this new way of thinking.

About IRI

The Industrial Research Institute (IRI) is an organization of almost 200 industrial and service companies having a common interest in the effective management of technological innovation. IRI member companies span diverse industries and represent a substantial portion of our nation’s gross domestic product. IRI is the only cross-industry organization creating innovation leadership solutions and best practices in innovation management developed through collaborative knowledge creation. For more information, call 703-647-2580 or visit