Nation & World News

Best Video Of The Day? MIT’s 3-D Remote ‘Touching’ Device

By Mark Memmott on January 2nd, 2014

It’s tempting to say this is the coolest video we’ve seen so far this year, but a joke like that might make it sound like we’re not serious.

Really, there is something about this that strikes as amazing.

The Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab calls its invention a “tangible user interface.”

What it does, The Associated Press writes, is allow a person in one location to move an object somewhere.

The “inFORM system,” according to the MIT Technology Review, “facilitates the real-time movement of physical ‘pixels’ on a table surface that move in accordance with data from a Kinect motion sensing input device.” The AP says a “depth-sensing camera” sends signals from the remote location to the “motorized pin screen” where something can then be manipulated.

You can see for yourself in the video what kind of things can be done already.

ITProPortal suggests that “an inForm device the size of a dinner table … could show moving faces, models of buildings for use in architectural design, or let you play real games such as mini golf.”

The Tangible Media Group is exploring several potential uses involving “maps, GIS [geographic information systems], terrain models and architectural models. Urban planners and Architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs. … We would like to explore medical or surgical simulations. We are also very intrigued by the possibilities of remotely manipulating objects on the table.”

The MIT Technology Review says that “while it’s debatable whether we’ll ever be able to teleport objects or people around the world at the speed of light, the inFORM system from Tangible Media Group at MIT might be the seeds of the next best thing.”

We’re imagining a conference call where the people you’re talking to look they’re in the room. Very Star Trek-ish.

But we suspect Two-Way readers may many more thoughts about the technology be used. Serious and fun suggestions are welcome in the comments thread.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Google Announces Partnership With Newspapers In Europe

Last December, Google shut down its Google News page in Spain, after the country threatened steep fines for aggregator sites that don’t pay newspapers.


A composite image of file photos shows Australians Myuran Sukumaran (left) and Andrew Chan in Denpasar district court in Bali. Indonesia has rejected appeals for clemency in their cases. The two will reportedly be executed early Wednesday.

‘Bali 9′ Pair Will Face Indonesian Firing Squad, After Last Appeals Denied

Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were the ringleaders of a group that sought to smuggle heroin out of Bali in 2005.


A police officer watches a corner market burn in the west side of Baltimore.

On The Streets Of Baltimore, Trying To Understand The Anger

On the streets, some said violence is the only way to get authorities to pay attention to the plight of blacks in Baltimore. Others said they understood the anger, but not the violence.


A man prays Tuesday morning next to rubble of a temple destroyed in Saturday's earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Nepal Death Toll Tops 5,000; At Least 1.4 Million Need Food Aid

Nearly 11,000 more were injured. The toll includes four Americans who died at a Mount Everest base camp. In addition to food, the U.N. says medical supplies are desperately needed.


A man stands near collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, on April 27, two days after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal. Aftershocks tend to get less frequent with time, scientists say, but not necessarily gentler.

Big Aftershocks In Nepal Could Persist For Years

Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake released stress that was building for 150 years, scientists say, and it reshuffled tension to nearby faults.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments