Reach Out and Touch Someone

Our new world of Apple FaceTime, Facebook Video Calling, Google Hangouts, and WebRTC is pretty awesome, but sometimes I miss just being able to give somebody a high-five.

And so do the guys at MIT.

The Tangible Media Group over there have developed a system using a Kinect motion sensor, a grid of “physical pixels,” and some secret herbs and spices to allow people to manipulate physical objects over a video call. It’s called InForm, and they describe it as a “dynamic shape display.” From a CNET article:

The InForm…turns 3D data into crude, physical representations in real time…It can scan bodily movements and recreate them on a table of physical “pixels,” allowing you to manipulate objects on the other end. The pixels on the InForm table are actually a grid of 900 motorized, polystyrene pins that can extend about 4 inches from the surface.

It looks a lot like those grids of metal pins you find on people’s desks that you can press shapes into. Watch the video, it’s more clear than any explanation. It’s also extremely trippy. Of course, the system is in proto form right now, but it still looks pretty cool. High-five guys.