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“Wormhole” connects Stanford and MIT

Students and faculty from Stanford and MIT can chat, collaborate or even do lunch thanks to an innovative communications portal that connects two university cafés.

Lunch crowds at MIT can now enjoy a touch of California sunshine via a live video connection from Stanford Engineering’s Forbes Family Café to its counterpart at MIT.

The “wormhole,” which officially launched today, is designed to encourage casual interactions by freeing participants from their laptops or special video-conferencing rooms and placing them in a social setting.

The device, which looks like the “Cone of Silence” from the 1960s TV series (and recent film) “Get Smart,” includes a high-resolution video camera, a flat screen and a set of advanced speakers and microphones.

The high-quality audio was essential because, unlike most video-conferencing systems, this has to work in a noisy café. An identical wormhole is operating at MIT. The technology was designed by MIT alum Kevin Brown.

Named for the hypothetical “shortcut” through space-time that could theoretically enable time travel, the wormhole is currently open 24-7 without a reservation.