Researchers at MIT have developed a interactive display that can shape-shift to render 3D representations and even interact with its environment.
A research team from the Tangible Media Group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has built an active physical visualization technology that uses a surface of pins that rearrange themselves to create a topographical representation of an object.
Called InForm, the idea behind the 3D “display” is much like a Pin Screen toy, made up of 1,000 pins arranged in a square grid. These pins are moved up and down by actuators, and the display can use an overhead display with Kinect sensor to augment the display with other information.
The 3D surface idea comes with several possible applications. For instance, the surface can make buttons on-demand. InForm will even interact with its environment. Users can press a “button” and InForm will feedback accordingly. The surface can even detect other objects and interact with these as necessary. For instance, it can play around with a ball by creating ramps to move it around or enclose it within a wall.
The killer app for this kind of interactive “display” would, however, be in architectural designing and urban planning.
“Urban planners and Architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs,” said the creators.
If you can imagine the scene in the first X-Men movie, in which Xavier and team plans out their attack on Magneto and company at Liberty Island, MIT’s InForm would be a candidate for a real-world device that city planners or architects can use for similar projections and planning.
Aviz actually offers a few other examples of “Active Physical Visualization” projects, which include those that address both civilian and military needs. This particular MIT project might go beyond simple visualization, however, in that the device can actually receive feedback from its environment and react accordingly.