Electronics

inFORM 3D display allows remote manipulation of physical objects

inFORM 3D display allows remot...
The inFORM display being operated by a remote user via video display (Photo: MIT)
The inFORM display being operated by a remote user via video display (Photo: MIT)
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Image of a ball rolling down an incline made of the inFORM 3D pins (Photo: MIT)
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Image of a ball rolling down an incline made of the inFORM 3D pins (Photo: MIT)
A tablet being slid into the observer's field of view (Photo: MIT)
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A tablet being slid into the observer's field of view (Photo: MIT)
The inFORM projected hands and arms of a remote user picking up and pointing a flashlight (Photo: MIT)
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The inFORM projected hands and arms of a remote user picking up and pointing a flashlight (Photo: MIT)
The point of view of a remote user who is manipulating the inFORM display surface with the help of a Kinect motion sensor system (Photo: MIT)
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The point of view of a remote user who is manipulating the inFORM display surface with the help of a Kinect motion sensor system (Photo: MIT)
Four ways in which a user can provide input through the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
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Four ways in which a user can provide input through the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
The inFORM display being operated by a remote user via video display (Photo: MIT)
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The inFORM display being operated by a remote user via video display (Photo: MIT)
Four ways in which the inFORM display surface can restrict the movement of a ball (Photo: MIT)
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Four ways in which the inFORM display surface can restrict the movement of a ball (Photo: MIT)
Four ways in which a 2.5D image made up of the inFORM 3D pins can be manipulated (Photo: MIT)
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Four ways in which a 2.5D image made up of the inFORM 3D pins can be manipulated (Photo: MIT)
A local user of the inFORM display using the display surface like modeling clay (Photo: MIT)
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A local user of the inFORM display using the display surface like modeling clay (Photo: MIT)
Front view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
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Front view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
Labelled front view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
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Labelled front view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
Front view of the inFORM system while a remote user is holding a ball in the air (Photo:MIT)
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Front view of the inFORM system while a remote user is holding a ball in the air (Photo:MIT)
Three-quarters view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
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Three-quarters view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
Rear view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
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Rear view of the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
Local user feeling the shape of a mathematical equation as displayed by the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
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Local user feeling the shape of a mathematical equation as displayed by the inFORM display system (Photo: MIT)
A remote user's hand and arm projections holding a ball on the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
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A remote user's hand and arm projections holding a ball on the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
The inFORM display from MIT (Photo: MIT)
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The inFORM display from MIT (Photo: MIT)
Remote user holding a ball with one virtual hand as rendered by the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
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Remote user holding a ball with one virtual hand as rendered by the inFORM display surface (Photo: MIT)
Schematic diagram of the inFORM 3D display, including the Kinect-based video input and the mechanism controlling the movements of the display's 3D pins (Photo: MIT)
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Schematic diagram of the inFORM 3D display, including the Kinect-based video input and the mechanism controlling the movements of the display's 3D pins (Photo: MIT)

The inFORM Dynamic Shape Display from MIT's Tangible Media Group allows users to interact with data with a minimum of physical barriers. It also allows users to virtually reach through a display screen, and manipulate physical objects that may be thousands of miles away. While the current version of inFORM has very limited spatial resolution, watching it in action gives one a strong impression of the potential of such devices.

The most important part of an inFORM isn't the 3D display itself. Rather, it is the coupling of a Kinect sensor and projector to extract 3D input from "watching" the movements of a user's hands. The position of a fingertip can be established to within about 2 mm (0.08 in) in the horizontal plane, and to about 1 cm (0.4 in) in height above the plane.

Enabling this form of input is common in development systems since the introduction of the Kinect late in 2010 made such sensors available at a modest cost. Newer Kinect systems come with software that includes a jointed model of an upper torso that allows apps to track the head, neck, and arms of a Kinect user.

Schematic diagram of the inFORM 3D display, including the Kinect-based video input and the mechanism controlling the movements of the display's 3D pins (Photo: MIT)
Schematic diagram of the inFORM 3D display, including the Kinect-based video input and the mechanism controlling the movements of the display's 3D pins (Photo: MIT)

The 3D (really 2.5D) display unit consists of a 30 x 30 grid of 1 cm square motorized polystyrene pins. The pins are separated from each other by about 3 mm, and can be moved vertically over a range of 10 cm ( 4 in). The height of each pin is controlled by a linkage connecting a pin to a linear motor controller, with the position being sensed using a linear potentiometer. Each pin can deliver a force equal to the weight of a 100 g (3.5 oz) mass.

The pins are not only adjustable by the computer to a certain height, but they can also deliver haptic feedback to a user. For example, it would be possible to display a map of an area where the height of a pin corresponds to the current population density at that position, while making the resistance of the pin to being moved from its position proportional to the rate of change of the population density.

A great deal could be said about the inFORM display, but I believe you will get more from observing it in action in the video below. The inFORM display, if nothing else, lives at the corner of fun and fashion – a place from which many of our best tools come. The future of inFORM will be interesting to follow.

Source: MIT

inFORM - Interacting With a Dynamic Shape Display

2 comments
MrGadget
This could open up new possibilities for the adult industry.
Miks Stiefel
Derived from the XMen Wolverine movie?