Interface concept from MIT Tangible Media Group explores the idea of tech interaction with an adaptable robotic form that changes shape from a single line:

We propose a novel Shape Changing Interface which has the form of a “Line”. Lines have several interesting characteristics from the perspective of interaction design: abstractness of data representation; a variety of inherent interactions / affordances; and constraints as boundaries or borderlines. By utilising such aspects of lines together with the added capability of shape-shifting, we present various applications in different scenarios such as shape changing cords, mobiles, body constraints, and data manipulation to investigate the design space of line-based shape changing interfaces.

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The internet shouldn't be just a screen.

Online news should be a paper in your living room, twitter and facebook should be displayed on coffee tables,

Displays can be reduced to subtler, simpler, more intuitive/elegant indications/conveyances—>light indicators, softscreens, an internet radio that you set up once with channels on a dial that continuously plays suitable, skippable programming.

Part of the problem is that it demands so much of you. It should be natural, easy, even clickless. It shouldn’t require peripherals.

The internet can’t continue as this thing you hole yourself up with, this face-tanning, eyestraining boxed-in nonsense. It should be something that catches your eye on the way to work, something you and your friends can do together at a party, something you can curl up with in the evening.



Proof-of-concept interface design project from MIT Tangible Media Group demonstrates a system combining the use of a smartphone with a desktop computer - video embedded below:

THAW is a novel interaction system that allows a collocated large display and small handheld devices to seamlessly work together. The smartphone acts both as a physical interface and as an additional graphics layer for near-surface interaction on a computer screen. Our system enables accurate position tracking of a smartphone placed on or over any screen by displaying a 2D color pattern that is captured using the smartphone’s back-facing camera. The proposed technique can be implemented on existing devices without the need for additional hardware.


MIT Whizzes Invent Magical Furniture That Changes Shape on Demand

Furniture has traditionally been a static thing. We sit at our tables, in our chairs that hold their stiff, rigid shape no matter what we’re doing or how we’re feeling. As our homes become smarter and more personalized, furniture has almost wholly been left out of the revolution.

It’s a shame. Just imagine if your sofa could sense how you’re feeling when you get home from work. To stave off marathon TV sessions, it could transform from a cushioned pile of pillows to a rigid lounge as encouragement to go outside and move around. This exact shape-shifting scenario is an unlikely reality, but a new project from MIT’s Tangible Media Group envisions more realistically what might happen when our furniture is finally able to respond to us.

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Called Transform, this table-like structure metamorphoses based on the motions and emotions of the humans around it. Developed by Sean Follmer, Daniel Leithinger and Hiroshi Ishii, the magical device was on show at the Lexus Design Amazing display during Milan Design Week.

The team describes Transform as a table, though you’d have to be hard-pressed to eat dinner at it. The rectangular object is made of 1,152 plastic pins that are controlled by individual microprocessors that sit underneath. A computer program dictates how each pin moves, creating undulating wave motions and pushing pins up to create sandcastle-like structures to tell a sort of tangible narrative. A Kinect above can sense when someone is nearby, and as you run your hand above the pins, they shy away like a school of fish after you dip your hand in the water.

An Evolving Project

If it looks familiar, that’s because the people responsible for Transform are the same people who created the astounding InFORM project. Last fall, when the Tangible Media Group released footage of InFORM, the internet’s head collectively exploded. In the video you watch as a human’s motions on screen are translated into a shape-shifting 3-D display, almost like a computer-assisted pin art toy.

It was truly bonkers, and not just because of how strange it looked. Cooler than the obvious visual appeal was the idea that someday we might actually use something like this to communicate with each other. InFORM was a first glimpse at a world where human-computer interaction has moved beyond flatscreens into the physical realm.

Though Transform moves similarly to InFORM, the projects actually have little in common. InFORM was essentially a way to make a computer interface exist tangibly, so the resulting project still very much looked and acted like a computer might. “Transform is going a little further,” explains Sean Follmer, one of the engineers on the project. “We’re saying, what could it mean to have physical interaction more imbedded in your home and in your life?”

Follmer and Leithinger believe computer-human interaction doesn’t have to look like a computer. In fact, they’re betting in the future technology will be so embedded into our surroundings that we’ll hardly notice it at all. “To me the most terrifying vision would be to be surrounded by touchscreens,” says Leithinger.

Beyond the Touchscreen

As our possessions become smarter and smarter, the question becomes less about if we can interact with these objects and more about how we want to interact with them. Touchscreens will simply be one of the many options–after all, swiping and tapping a flat, glassy screen isn’t a blanket solution to make something interactive.

“Materiality and tactility are fundamental human desires,” says Ishii. In world where we’re increasingly surrounded by flat pixels, Ishii’s lab is on a conquest to figure out how we can avoid a glass-covered future.

Transform is still very much a rough proof of concept, but the potential applications of this tangibility are easy to imagine: A piece of furniture that reacts to our mood or surroundings, a tangible architectural rendering, a new way to visualize topographic data, and that’s only a glimpse of what’s possible.

In the future all of our connected surroundings will have a richness that goes far beyond a flat screen, the team is betting. As Leithinger puts it: “Every little thing I have on me will be reacting to me in the future, and I don’t think only through pixels.“

Sifteo Cubes: Programable Interactive Cubes for #games and #music

These came out a few weeks back as an official product, and I am finally getting around to posting them. They started a few years back as siftables at MIT, and if you read my old blog you would have likely seen the earlier version their, along with other similar projects.

The one thing I am most excited about with this is of course using them for music, like this sequencer below.



Proof of concept tech from MIT Tangible Media Group is modular strip electronics that can be applied to various forms of interaction and interfaces:

We present ChainFORM: a linear, modular, actuated hardware system as a novel type of shape changing interface. Using rich sensing and actuation capability, this modular hardware system allows users to construct and customize a wide range of interactive applications. Modules are equipped with rich input and output capability: touch detection on multiple surfaces, angular detection, visual output, and motor actuation. Each module includes a servo motor wrapped with a flexible circuit board with an embedded microcontroller.

Leveraging the modular functionality, we introduce novel interaction capability with shape changing interfaces, such as rearranging the shape/configuration and attaching to passive objects and bodies. This project intends to expand the design space for interaction with actuated curve interface in LineFORM using advanced hardware design.

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GLAAD releases new guide for reporting on bisexual community
Despite comprising a large portion of the LGBT community as a whole, bisexual people face disproportionately high rates of physical and mental illness, and are more likely to experience sexual and intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, or non-LGBT people. In partnership with leading bi advocacy groups, GLAAD is shaping the cultural narrative in order to accelerate acceptance for the bi+ community.

“How bisexuality is portrayed in the media has tangible consequences on bi people’s day-to-day experiences,“ said Alexandra Bolles, Programs Strategist at GLAAD. "Empowering the media to represent the bisexual community, its challenges, and its achievements in many dimensions is an invaluable and necessary step in shifting the cultural narrative towards bi visibility and, ultimately, full acceptance.”


Really cool applications. If we could just solve the projection angle issue…

Bestof: the responsiveness of the three cube examples, the 3d walkthrough, and the dome scaling input response.

Wan Sup Choi & Sang Hung Heo, Sandbox Ocean, 2011
Finalist – 2011 Adobe Design Achievement Awards

“Sandbox Ocean” is a multi-user interactive installation. Users collaborate in creating a dynamic and animated world by changing and shaping the topography of a sandbox. The interface is simple, intuitive and playful. Customizing Microsoft’s Kinect system, the project adds a new-media dimension to the playful sandbox of our childhood. The malleable sand interface fosters an activity that emphasizes mutual and collaborative creative play rather than competition. The physical interaction is intended to bring digital media back from the mediated world of the computer screen into the realm of tangible experience.



Experimental electronic textile project by Judit Eszter Karpati with fabric that changes it’s colours with the help of an Arduino - video embedded below:

CHROMOSONIC project is an electronic textile that changes color, using the Arduino open-source platform.
The dynamic changes in the textile color derive from processed sound files. Silkscreen was used to cover the textile in a dye that changes with temperature. Sound makes the nichrome wires woven into the fabric heat up, changing the pattern.

The project investigates the relationship between digital world and textile arts, the everchanging boundaries between the digital and physical world.How the world of digital media becomes tangible through the textile medium. My intention was the broadening the field of textile craft and design, bringing together different mediums and looking for new possibilities in textile design. The project mixing different areas: textile design, electronics, IT.

The chromosonic project has it’s own Tumblr blog, where you can find out more here


GLAAD releases new guide for reporting on bisexual community

Today, GLAAD, in partnership with BiNet USA, Bisexual Organizing Project, and the Bisexual Resource Center, released In Focus: Reporting on the Bisexual Community, a resource guide to equp journalists and media experts to accurately and effectively report on the bisexual community, its experiences, and the important issues bi people face.

“Bisexual people have been at the forefront of LGBT rights throughout history, but are still too often left out of the conversation,“ said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. "This guide will serve as a powerful tool to combat harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and erasure of bi people in the media.”

“How bisexuality is portrayed in the media has tangible consequences on bi people’s day-to-day experiences,” said Alexandra Bolles, Programs Strategist at GLAAD. “Empowering the media to represent the bisexual community, its challenges, and its achievements in many dimensions is an invaluable and necessary step in shifting the cultural narrative towards bi visibility and, ultimately, full acceptance.”

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Follow @macleod for more news dealing with sexuality, science, and politics.


Amazing Technology Invented By MIT - Tangible Media



Physical Telepresence from Tangible Media Group on Vimeo.

Physical telepresence: shape capture and display for embodied, computer-mediated remote collaboration.