TANGIBLE MEDIA GROUP

inForm

source: thisiscolossal

While it’s debatable whether we’ll ever be able to teleport objects or people around the world at the speed of light, the inFORM system from Tangible Media Group at MIT might be the seeds of the next best thing. inFORM facilitates the real-time movement of physical “pixels” on a table surface that move in accordance with data from a Kinect motion sensing input device. The system allows people to remotely manipulate objects from a distance, physically interact with data or temporary objects, and could open the door to a wide variety of gaming, medical, or other interactive scenarios where people might be in remote locations.

One can only imagine the possibilities as the resolution of such a device increases. As mind-blowing as the video is above, the inFORM demonstrated has a relatively low resolution of 30×30 resulting in 900 moving “pixels”. As technology allows, what happens if the resolution doubles or quadruples and 3D content begins to appear exponentially more lifelike.

inFORM is currently under development at MIT’s Tangible Media Group and was designed by Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, Hiroshi Ishii with help from numerous other software and hardware engineers.
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source: tangiblemediamitedu

inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance.

We are currently exploring a number of application domains for the inFORM shape display. One area we are working on is Geospatial data, such as maps, GIS, terrain models and architectural models. Urban planners and Architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs. We are collaborating with the urban planners in the Changing Places group at MIT on this. In addition, inFORM would allow 3D Modelers and Designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing (at a low resolution). Finally, cross sections through Volumetric Data such as medical imaging CT scans can be viewed in 3D physically and interacted with. We would like to explore medical or surgical simulations. We are also very intrigued by the possibilities of remotely manipulating objects on the table.

Past research on shape displays has primarily focused on rendering content and user interface elements through shape output, with less emphasis on dynamically changing UIs. We propose utilizing shape displays in three different ways to mediate interaction: to facilitate by providing dynamic physical affordances through shape change, to restrict by guiding users with dynamic physical constraints, and to manipulate by actuating physical objects. We explore potential interaction techniques and introduce Dynamic Physical Affordances and Constraints with our inFORM system, built on top of a state-of-the-art shape display, which provides for variable stiffness rendering and real-time user input through direct touch and tangible interaction. A set of example applications demonstrates how dynamic affordances, constraints and object actuation can create novel interaction possibilities.