MIT invents shapeshifting robotic screen that mimics your hands from the other side of the world

Be prepared to have your mind blown: this is a look at the future. MIT scientist have invented what they call a screen which can be touch and manipulated by a person remotely. So if you want to move an object that’s sitting on the screen, you can do it from anywhere.

The Tangible Media Group at MIT’s Media Lab created the display made of atoms, not pixels, and called it the inFORM. The plastic pins are controlled by a motor connected to a laptop which can render digital and real-life objects thanks to the Microsoft Kinect it uses for eyes.

So what does this mean? Two people remotely connected on Skype could physically interact. Obviously in this early stage that would be a very basic high five, or patting a ball back and forth, for example. Or two 3D modellers could work sculpting something from different sides of the planet. But a more complex future version could work on a larger scale and, conceivably, recreated most of an entire human. Pretty mind-blowing stuff.

Co-creator Sean Follimer says: "As humans, we have evolved to interact physically with our environments, but in the 21st century, we're missing out on all of this tactile sensation that is meant to guide us, limit us, and make us feel more connected. In the transition to purely digital interfaces, something profound has been lost.

"Whatever it ends up looking like, the UI of the future won't be made of just pixels, but time and form as well. And that future is only five or ten years away. It's time for designers to start thinking about what that means now."



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