inFORM is a dynamic shape display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it – for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance.
Sean Folder, United States,
Prof. Hiroshi Ishii, Japan,
Daniel Leithinger, Austria
inFORM works by making use of 900 actuators and custom-designed circuit boards that receive information from a computer system. The actuators are connected through mechanical linkages to plastic pins. Each pin – which can move up and down some 100mm – is 9.535mm x 9.535mm in size, and acts as a real-life pixel. The pins are spaced 3.175mm apart and controlled by microcontrollers (small computers) that talk to each other on a very fast network. A projector is used to display colour on top of each pin and a Kinect system is used for mid-air gestures and to track objects and touches on the table.
The designers are currently exploring a number of application domains for the inFORM shape display. One area they are working on is geospatial data, such as maps, GIS, terrain models and architectural models. Urban planners and architects could view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs. In addition, inFORM would allow 3D modellers and designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing (at a low resolution).
Finally, cross sections through volumetric data such as medical imaging CT scans could be viewed in 3D and physically interacted with. The designers would like to explore medical or surgical simulations. They are also very intrigued by the possibilities of remotely manipulating objects on the table.