MIT's Latest Amazing Invention: The Shapeshifting inFORM Display

Whenever I'm passed a video and am told in advance that it's "amazing" or "unbelievable", I tend to go into it with the highest level of skepticism. Such was the case with the video of MIT's latest project, involving a shapeshifting display that you can manipulate on-the-fly, either with your hands directly or other means. To say my initial skepticism wore off quickly would be an understatement.

This display, called inFORM, consists of a grid of square-tipped pillars that can shift up and down as the entire array is manipulated either by your hands or other objects thanks to the help of cameras. In some cases, a computer can send data over to it directly.

In the video below, we can see the demonstrator use his hands to move a ball around the surface, and even grab a flashlight and somehow turn it on. He then takes other simple objects, such as a book and a bowl, to show just how accurate the cameras can be when interpreting their true shape. Just have a look:

One of the neatest examples of this tech seen in the video is where a bar chart was literally slid from a tablet PC over to the display, at which point the display began building it immediately, and with colors to boot. One can only imagine how well such a cool presentation would go down in a board meeting.

As simple as the display looks on the surface, it's not that simple under the hood. Check it out:

As someone who has very little interest in things like VR or AR, I find myself rather surprised about this, and can envision myself playing with it far too much while not getting any work done. It's not a game, but it's capabilities are great, and potential, amazing.

Tags:  3D, mit