What if you could reach into your computer screen, pull something out of it,
and manipulate it with your hands?
New technology that allows us to do just that is a step away from revolutionizing
the way we interact with the digital world. Technology will soon make it possible
for us to reach out and touch digital information, making interaction and collaboration
between people thousands of miles apart much easier.
The Tangible Media Group at MIT is developing tons of these game-changing technologies. One new device called inFORM allows the user to move objects
around without having to actually physically be there to touch them. inFORM creators
Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, and Hiroshi Ishii, describe inFORM as a Dynamic
Shape Display "that can render 3-D content physically, so users can interact with
digital information in a tangible way."
In this demonstration it appears as if they've made a pegboard to interpret screen
data so it looks like this guy is rolling the ball around...
... But behind the scenes you can see the user is creating the physical representation
of himself by moving his actual hands to interact with the ball in the digital representation:
Follmer said this kind of shape display and digital interaction technology has existed
for a while, but inFORM is different because it focuses on interaction between the user
and objects, and provides a way for people far away to collaborate and work together.
For example the scientists behind inFORM say on the Tangible Media Group website that
"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."
Follmer said inFORM could likely be used for maps and terrain models, and to make
prototypes of architecture designs.
For example, if landscapers were planning the construction of an outdoor courtyard,
one could reach out and move the physical objects around from thousands of miles away.