MIT's Amazing 3D Gizmo
The MIT Media Lab has developed a way to reach out and touch someone—literally. Dubbed inFORM, the device is a "Dynamic Shape Display." It's like a computer's display, except the "pixels" are physical pins that move up and down. Combine this with a 3D camera like the Kinect, and you get a moving 3D physical representation of an object, rather than a picture. Long story short, you need to watch this:
inFORM - Interacting With a Dynamic Shape Display from Tangible Media Group on Vimeo.
We are currently exploring a number of application domains for the inFORM shape display. One area we are working on is Geospatial data, such as maps, GIS, terrain models and architectural models. Urban planners and Architects can view 3D designs physically and better understand, share and discuss their designs. We are collaborating with the urban planners in the Changing Places group at MIT on this (http://cp.media.mit.edu/). In addition, inFORM would allow 3D Modelers and Designers to prototype their 3D designs physically without 3D printing (at a low resolution). Finally, cross sections through Volumetric Data such as medical imaging CT scans can be viewed in 3D physically and interacted with. We would like to explore medical or surgical simulations. We are also very intrigued by the possibilities of remotely manipulating objects on the table.
Read the rest, or check out a stop motion animation exploring similar ideas in physical user interfaces.