Just watch that GIF and tell us if your mind isn’t blown. It’s a project by a team at MIT called inFORM. It seems to involve a table with an array of individually actuated push-rods, which are in turn controlled by a motion-tracking camera. Here’s how they explain it:
Past research on shape displays has primarily focused on rendering content and user interface elements through shape output, with less emphasis on dynamically changing UIs. We propose utilizing shape displays in three different ways to mediate interaction: to facilitate by providing dynamic physical affordances through shape change, to restrict by guiding users with dynamic physical constraints, and to manipulate by actuating physical objects.
If we’re understanding their jargon correctly, the team is looking to develop a man/machine interaction that doesn’t involve a static user interface. In other words, they’re exploring ways in which we could interact with machines in the future. What does that mean in practical terms? We’re not sure, but a user on Reddit suggests a table that can pass the salt itself… It’s funny, but hey, the possibilities appear limitless and we’re glad folks with some semblance of competence are working on this stuff.
Watch the full video below to get a better idea of how awesome this is.