As a kid, I remember going to novelty stores like San Francisco and later Spencer Gifts, seeing a myriad of useless toys and gadgets. One of these was always the metal pinboard where you could smush your fist (or fast) into the bed of pins and it’d recreate that shape on the other side. This is kind of like that, but way cooler.
The Tangible Media Group at MIT have come up with what they call the inFORM Dynamic Shape Display. It’s a 2.5D display made of up several pegs, but the kicker is that you can remotely manipulate those pegs by way of the Kinect. They’ll see the 2.5D board, which consists of a 30×30 grid of 1cm square pins, via a 3D display and then they can reach in and manipulate it.
The spatial resolution isn’t nearly as precise as they would like it to be, but this is a great first step. This could be great for remote collaboration and the pegs can be controlled via a computer too, perhaps rendering a 2.5D graph of population distribution or the topography of a local area.
The best way to understand how inFORM works and the potential that it holds is to watch the video that the MIT folks have put together. Check it out below.