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MIT invents cool shapeshifter technology: Touch faraway object through screen

Touch faraway object through screen
Touch faraway object through screen
Photo credit: MIT Media Lab

Have you ever wanted to reach through that computer screen and hold hands with a loved one or jam with your band, on a piano a thousand miles away?

The Tangible Media Group at MIT Media Lab has been working for years on a technology that creates an interface between our physical environment and cyberspace.

Their development gives physical form to digital information, coupling the worlds of bits and atoms. The team hopes to bring more richness to our digital experiences by finding ways for us to take advantage of our human senses and skills in our digital world.

One of the labs many projects, created by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer is inFORM which is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D digital content physically. As you can see in the video above, a person can interact physically with an object at a remote location. This may not seem much when viewing the technology visually on the video, but one can definitely sense it brings a stronger sense of “presence” to our cyberspace interactions. Possibly in the future, we may even be able to hold hands.

Professor Hiroshi Ishii at the MIT Media Lab founded the Tangible Media Group in fall 1995 pursuing a new vision of Human Computer Interaction (HCI): "Tangible Bits" through physical embodiment digital information and in 2012, presented the new vision "Radical Atoms" to take a leap beyond "Tangible Bits" which develops materials that can change form and appearance dynamically. One project, “Transform” recently won an award at Lexus Design Amazing 2014 Milan, in April 2014.

They are working on projects so that urban planners and architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs, 3D modelers and designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing (at a low resolution), medical imaging CT scans which can be viewed in 3D physically and interacted with as well as medical or surgical simulations.

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