Dynamic 3D Presence. Source: Tangible Media Group / MIT Media Lab
Dynamic 3D Presence. Source: Tangible Media Group / MIT Media Lab

Researchers at MIT are taking the 3D world to even greater heights in their Tangible Media Group lab, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii. The group has created ways to actively manipulate objects and virtually create a physical presence despite being separated by distance. The project, called inFORM, explores the concept of a virtual physical presence to another location, allowing an individual to grab, move, and act as if they were in the same room.

The current prototype allows a presenting individual to demonstrate a physical movement within a defined space.  A kinetic camera records movement, captures depth and projects the actions to a receiver who views the interaction on a pallet of physical pixels. Pixels move up and down, mimicking the movements of the presenter and giving a sense of depth-perception. In its early phases, researchers have expressed various motions including projecting a ball moving through a basket and moving objects across the table of pixels.

The inFORM team hopes to create a “strong sense of presence” and create physical interaction regardless of distance. The team’s ultimate goal is to further the concept of Radical Atoms, which according to the Tangible Media Group website, “is the future material that can transform their shape, conform to constraints, and inform the users of their affordances. Radical Atoms is a vision for the future of human-material interaction, in which all digital information has a physical manifestation so that we can interact directly with it.”

The team envisions a future without the boundaries of distance, with Radical Atoms bridging the gap between between space and physical presence. More information about the inFORM project can be found at http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/.