Tech EM: inFORM 3D Digital Pinscreen

February 18, 2015 | Event Technology

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The ground breaking technology, InForm pinscreen, creates 3D shapes in real time via a digital source. It’s beginning was inspired by pinscreen toys where you press your hand in one side of the toy and the impression shapes the flip side. Students at MIT used this idea to create the interface.


This 3D interface from MIT’s Media Lab takes the old idea of a pinscreen to create a ‘display’ made of physical pixels that can take on tangible forms like hands, or other shapes. A Kinect controller and motor-contolled “pins” track 3D positioning of nearby objects and makes the device react in three dimensions. In simple terms the inFORM display can be described as a self-aware computer monitor that displays not only light, but also shape.


One of the creators, Daniel Leithinger, explains how the display works: "By moving these pins up and down with computer control, we can form a shape. That shape can be a three-dimensional model you load from a computer, it can be a user interface, or it can be a shape of a remote person." The goal of this display is too work as a platform to quickly prototype things. Leithinger says, “testing out different scenarios can happen instantaneously.”


The inFORM pinscreen has received mixed reviews by the tech industry but the overall feeling is that it is a step towards the future. Leithinger expresses that tangible interfaces are coming. In fact, MIT continues to make advances with interfaces and other digital technologies.




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Posted by Jamie Barlow | Request as a Speaker

Devoted creative servant and quiet sage of technology. Inspired by nature and motivated by mediocrity. Digital team lead @sparksmarketing.