Ticha Sethapakdi

16 Feb 2014

inFORM is an amazing interactive display that was developed at the MIT Media Lab. This ‘Dynamic Shape Display’ uses a Kinect Camera to obtain motion capture data from the user and actuators to move the prisms protruding from the surface. Together, they allow the user to interact with and manipulate the physical world at a distance. The demos in the video show the various applications of the inFORM, so it is obvious that this device has a number of uses; it would be interesting to see how devices similar to this can be used for medical purposes or others requiring heavy tangible interaction. This demonstrated ability to remotely interact with a physical object brings me to the next project, which uses the notion of remote interaction in a simple yet effective way:

Roly Poly is a paired device that brings couples in long-distance relationships a little closer by enabling them to feel each other’s physical presence. Each user has a personal egg that is ‘partnered’ with another Roly Poly egg that moves in synchronization with it–this means that if a person on one end were to tilt their egg, their partner’s egg would mimic the motion in real-time. The egg is still in its development stages, so I’m not really sure whether it works nearly as effectively as they intend it to. For the final product, I would like to see how they can push (pun unintended) the concept further by adding a few more features–though its simplicity is what gives the egg its appeal. Regardless, it is an interesting, poetic concept that I hope will come into fruition in the near future.

Speaking of devices used in long-distance relationships, Pillow Talk is one such project that attempts to “network long distance lovers”. Each person has a chest sensor attached to a band around their waist that is paired with a pillow, such that the pillow lights up when the person lies down. The concept is exactly the same as the one for the Roly Poly egg, but the approach is slightly different in that the ‘interactivity’ is not actually something that is intrinsic to the project (i.e. the project only ‘encourages’ [but does not ‘require’] the users to interact with the pillows in order to function (; ). I feel like in order to bring a stronger interactive element to the project, there should be a way for each person to know whether their partner is clutching their pillow / interacting with it in some way.