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The Handjob of the Future

The Tangible Media Group at MIT's Media Lab has unveiled a futuristic display made of atoms, not pixels. Warning: minds will be blown.

Since the invention of the TV, nothing much has changed as far as digital display goes. Whether it was the first black and white sets or an HD iPad, what you're seeing in front of you is nothing more than a 2D representation of organised pixels and meta-communication; cold and intangible. Well, we've stumbled upon what might be the biggest evolution in communication technology since the mobile was invented. Well not us, or we wouldn't be sitting here. It was them geeks at MIT. On a side note, it's inventions like this which goes to show that scientists and engineers are probably the only people worth respecting on this godforsaken planet.

The MIT Media Lab have created a shapeshifting display that you can reach through and touch. The inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away. Although, let's be honest: this invention won't just be used for holding hands, but more likely remote handjobs. Getting our head out of the gutter for a second though, the possibilities are simply endless with the development of this technology in every field from music, to science and medicine, especially in terms of global collaboration.

Created by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer and overseen by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, the inFORM basically works like you're typical pinscreen with each pin motor conrtolled by your laptop which can move the pins about to render digital content. This means you can bring a 3-D model of something to life, or it can mold into the shape of a real life object interacting with its surface, thanks to the sensors of a hacked Microsoft Kinect. The way it interacts with it's user is incredibly new age; forget buttons, keys and touch screens, the process is as natural as moving your hands about like a telekinetic conductor.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as to what a future UI might look like and although it's not something that would be available to the public any time soon, it does definitely give you an idea of how we will soon interact with each other across the planet. Let's hope this invention makes it to the end consumer; let's hope for a happy ending.


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