MIT technology makes it possible to ‘be’ two places at once

This user’s arms are rendered by pixel-like pins.

(Credit: MIT Tangible Media Group)

It’s still impossible to be in two places at once, unless you’ve got one of these gadgets lying around.

The InForm is a dynamic shape display from MIT’s Tangible Media Group. It turns 3D data into crude, physical representations in real time.

Using a Kinect motion sensor, it can scan bodily movements and recreate them on a table of physical “pixels,” allowing you to manipulate objects on the other end. The pixels on the InForm table are actually a grid of 900 motorized, polystyrene pins that can extend about 4 inches from the surface, according to an MIT paper (PDF) for the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.

The grid is powered by an elaborate system of computer-controlled linkages and actuators under the table. Meanwhile, an overhead Kinect and projector deliver data on user motion into the system while casting visual feedback onto the table. The mind-bending video at the end of this article shows how a user can cradle a ball or flashlight and interact with 3D models.

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