I recently came across the following research project from the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab.
inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display which allows you to physically interact with 3D data.
To get a good idea of the concept, watch the following video
(original link: http://vimeo.com/79179138)
Further details of the research can be found in the paper “inForm: Dynamic Physical Affordances and Constraints through Shape and Object Actuation” which can be found on the MIT Tangible Media Group website at
This paper is due to appear in the Proceedings of the 26th annual ACM symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 13).
The system uses 30×30 motorized white polystyrene pins over an area of 381x381mm and uses 900 mechanical actuators to control the pin height and provide a variable stiffness. User interaction and objects are tracked using an overhead Microsoft Kinect. Graphics are created using OpenGL and displayed using an overhead projector onto over an 87 x 66 cm area display area.
I think its an interesting concept and I look forward to a higher resolution version …
The project page can be found at