The Tangible Media Group from MIT has developed an approach to responsive design in physical space that is both conceptual and plausible, futuristic yet already a reality.
1,000 independently-mobile squares shift up and down to shape bowls and surfaces – with even more such ‘pixels’ of a soft material the same technology could be applied to chairs and couches, too.
The morphing surfaces in play can be manipulated in all kind of ways, from passively sensing your mood (and changing shape accordingly) to responding directly to commands, gestures, movements or remote control. Their approach grows out of a notion that we increasingly take for granted: computers are moving into everything, not just dedicated laptops or handheld devices but everyday objects all around us.
This last video shows where it all started, with inFORM, a “Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance.”