Tangible Media Group of MIT Media Lab recently released a demonstration video of what it calls pin-based shape displays, which use physics to produce a deformable surface of sorts that responds to touch. What I find interesting about this concept is that the hardware is essentially acting as a 3D mechanical touchscreen, providing both interface (input) and display (output) simultaneously.

The use of material physics adds a much richer response than if the pins simply shifted between on and off states. Given the size of the pins, one might refer to current implementation as “low resolution,” and imagine that a “high resolution” device would be indistinguishable from liquid or fluid, to foam or stone.
Of course, you can’t help but draw an analogy to pinscreen toys that have been around for so many years…


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