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MIT researchers develop 3D pixel screen that changes with your movements

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have invented a device that allows people to remotely manipulate objects. The ambitious new technology uses a camera that transposes real-life objects into shapes on a remote-controlled "pin screen."

The device, dubbed inForm, allows users to manipulate objects even when they're not in the same room. It comes from MIT's Tangible Media Group, whose mission is to "seamlessly couple the dual world of bits and atoms by giving physical form to digital information."

The demonstration video (above) is a proof-of-concept that shows a very "low-resolution" 30x30 pins. The group believes that in the future, devices using inForm technology could support a much higher resolution, using thousands of pins.

An inForm device the size of a dinner table, for instance, could show moving faces, models of buildings for use in architectural design, or let you play real games such as mini golf.

On the project's website (opens in new tab), the group claims that the burgeoning technology could help with video conferencing, allowing for "a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance."

The group also sees the project as a step toward "radical atoms," the idea that the atoms that make up materials could one day be programmed as easily as we program pixels on a computer screen.

The research comes just as another advance in tangible technology, 3D printing, seems poised to enter the mainstream (opens in new tab) of business and consumer electronics.

Paul Cooper
Paul Cooper

Paul has worked as an archivist, editor and journalist, and has a PhD in the cultural and literary significance of ruins. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine, and he was previously Staff Writer and Journalist at ITProPortal.