Touchscreens and displays are all one dimensional, and we have yet to come up with a way to truly turn them into 3D displays that physically show things in 3D. Sure, we have 3D movie theaters and of course also those quirky 3D home movie TVs that none of us really buy, or am I wrong there? A group of MIT innovators calling themselves Tangible Media Group are on course to solve this with a new innovation category that we could dub shape display technology.
Their project is called inFORM, and it is a remarkable piece of technology that I think with a few more years behind it could very well become something that could redefine the way we look at a screen. Shape display technology is based on the true experience of 3D. Imagine interacting with objects even though they are just virtual or on the other side of the world. It’s hard to explain exactly what the inFORM shape display is if you haven’t seen it, and I guess that is why their demonstration video is filled with different interaction methods.
Basically, what the inFORM shape display could be described as is a table with square rods controlled by a computer. The user, who could be sitting anywhere in the world, is interacting with it using a Kinect camera mounted above him or her which converts all things physical into a 3D mesh which is then again converted into the way the inFORM shape display shows your interaction.
For example, let’s say that you put your smartphone in this horizontal display and it rings. If you’re listening to music while looking at the sleeve of your epic vinyl record, the phone call could very well be missed by you. However, with the inFORM shape display the user who is trying to call you could pick up your phone from where he or she is and move it around the table (display) further poking on your attention. It’s a trippy thing to see, and once you have seen the whole video you will understand what I mean.
This technology could further shorten the distance between loved ones or even feeling distant when having a phone conference. If this technology is further developed, we could be looking at floors or walls that are one big shape display for us to interact with. The applications are limitless once you really start to think about them. It is once again like science fiction has been realized in a way that we could have never foreseen.