Design Science

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inFORM: An Interactive Dynamic Shape Display that Physically Renders 3D Content

November 12, 2013

Christopher Jobson








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. You can learn more about it here.



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