High Five Someone… from 3,000 Miles Away

Andrew Lampard
This Could Be Big

What if you could reach out and high five someone from 3,000 miles away?

You may be able to one day -- if the inFORM Dynamic Shape Display, an interactive imaging display, is brought to market.

Created by the Tangible Media Group, part of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the inFORM allows a person to create 3D shapes with physical objects .

According to Sean Follmer, a Ph.D candidate and research assistant with the Tangible Media Group, the team was inspired by the Pinscreen, the seemingly ubiquitous toy with which many of us have used to create hand shapes.

Follmer said the team wanted to take the interactive experience into the digital sphere: “Instead of just displaying colors like you do on a traditional display, here we can display height.”

The display accomplishes that dimensionality by capturing hand movements with a Microsoft Kinect sensor and translating them into data. A computer then interprets that data into physical movements by pins on the display table. In order to make the hands look realistic, the team even installed a color projector above the table, which shines color onto the display.

In the video above, a member of Tangible Media Group, pushes physical objects on the display board without physical touching those objects. Words don’t do it justice; the effect looks like CGI.

In addition to rendering high fives, Follmer foresees dozens of practical uses for this interactive technology.

“Our group historically has tried to embody digital information into the physical world,” he said. “That could be things like embedding digital information into medicine bottles, so that when you’re supposed to take your medicine, it lights up directly on the bottle.”

The world of “Minority Report” seems closer with every passing day..