No, we're not talking about "the cloud" where data goes to disappear and (hopefully) be retrieved again. We're talking about an actual (well, artificial) cloud that promises to be both a real structure and a massive digital display. That's the bright idea of a team of researchers from MIT, anyway, and it's now been shortlisted in a competition designed to find a new tourist attraction to be built in London for the 2012 Olympics. Dubbed simply "The Cloud," the structure would consist of two 400-foot tall mesh towers that are linked by a series of interconnected plastic bubbles, which would themselves house an observation deck inside and be used to display everything from Olympic scores and highlights to a "barometer of the city's interests and moods" outside (that latter bit comes courtesy of the group's partnership with Google). As if that wasn't enough, the whole thing also promises to be funded entirely by micro-payments from the public (which would also determine its final size), and be completely self-powered, with it relying on a combination of solar power and regenerative braking from the lifts in the towers. Video after the break.

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Digital 'Cloud' could form over London for the 2012 Olympics