back to article MIT boffins show off spooky human action at a distance

Cunning boffins from the Tangible Media Group at MIT's Media Lab have shown off a new gadget called a 'Dynamic Shape Display' that turns actions performed in one room into results in another. Demonstrated in the video below, the Display comprises pixels that are rods can be raised or lowered to form shapes. Users wave their …


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  1. frank ly Silver badge

    future scenarios in which “medical imaging ..."


  2. Ashton Black


    Interesting indeed!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cool.

      Pah! That's nothing. Combine this with the cockroach control chip, stitch the device into a Burberry cap (or the tea cosies that seem to have supplanted Burberry headware), and control your own member of the lower social orders from your smartphone.

      Go down the pub, load up the Control-a-prole (tm) app, and make your puppy dance! Or start a pub fight on the other side of the room, with motion control to operate his limbs. Endless fun, like keeping your chav sinking the pints, but stop him going to the toilet! Take him to the Indian and order a phal, and force feed him to eat it all, before going outside and getting him to lick the Saturday evening pavement clean.

      Excuse me, I'm off to seek funding from Kickstarter.

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: Cool.


      2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Cool.

        "Go down the pub, load up the Control-a-prole (tm) app, and make your puppy dance!"

        The image of the 'Battling Robots' game just popped in my head -- though even without the remote control many seem to have the 'Weekend punch-up' subroutine embedded in ROM.

        Oh, don't forget the pay-per-view from the council's CCTV system.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cool.

          "though even without the remote control many seem to have the 'Weekend punch-up' subroutine embedded in ROM"

          True. But with Control-a-prole you could add variety like getting them to fight themselves. Make your prole spill their own pint, or give themselves the eyeball in a suitable mirror, and then have a one man kick off. Should be great fun seeing how hard they can punch themselves. Or if there's big mirrors around, have them fight their own reflection. Like an angry sparrow, just bigger, more stupid, and fouler of mouth.

          Maybe the app could combine Google dictate, and enable you to speak into your phone, and the prole drools it out in whatever accent he is blessed with. In fact better still, celeb voices by manipulating his vocal cords. So he knocks over his own drink, and out of his trap comes Joanna Lumley's voice, saying "You've spilt my pint, you b******d! Do you think you're hard, mate?" and so forth, prior to setting about himself.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They just need to make the pins smaller and it will be better. Like the pins from a pinboard.

    But was impressed.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The new Superman film, Man of Steel, features computer-generated images of this technique, though far more refined and high-tech (obviously WETA Digital didn't have to make it like MIT have done, but just depict it). On the planet Krypton, output from video-conferencing and medical scanners is displayed by means of floating blobs of moving 3D pins.

      EDIT: a better link here, first video, 27 seconds in:

  4. Mike Bell

    Slightly different take on it...

    A nice interaction of a real ball with a virtual equivalent.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    innovation or invention

    "Just how the rig works isn't disclosed..."

    It looks cool indeed. When I see things like this I can't help thinking that it is an innovative way of bringing together a number of existing (very cool) technologies - but there doesn't appear to be any new technology on display. I wonder what other new technologies MIT had to develop themselves to bring us this device.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: innovation or invention

      I'm guessing that those rods are as light as possible. I would have guessed that they were actuated by compressed air, but after looking through the images on the linked MIT page, I'm not so sure. The actuators take up a area roughly a third bigger than the actual rods, to which they are attached by linkages.

      Another film that uses this concept is After Earth... (a much slated film, not too bad if you go in with reduced expectations, and I did like the design of the spaceship interior)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somebody liked the map from X-Men 1 and the medic chair in The Wolverine.

  7. Walking_corps

    so the watch X-MEN

    I am sure I saw this on the first X-men film. Life imitates art .. if art is the right word!

    Cool though

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The rig beneath looks like a monster! I suppose the matrix could be relatively easily made bigger i.e. more 'pixels' but I imagine making each pixel smaller would be a challenge. As it stands the matrix looks very aliased. I wonder if covering the matrix with a very stretchable membrane would help anti-alias the thing. The membrane would have to be attached to the end point of each vertically moving 'stick' using a slightly stiffer circular 'domed' gasket between the stick and membrane to reduce any discontinuity at the edges of the stick. Just musing.

    1. JassMan Silver badge

      Re: anti-aliasing

      Yeah. The biggest problem with making smaller pixels, is going to be the bandwidth. Halve the linear dimensions and you will need 8 times the bandwidth.

  9. Andrew Yeomans

    The Riven map table had much better resolution!

    See here

  10. Wzrd1

    I got 30 seconds in, got *really* annoyed with physics errors and inconsistencies.

    A minute in, I killed the video.

    Things that should be constant are variable, *super* coarse things are the standard of measurement.

    Maybe in a half to a full decade on, not today.

    Not really sure I'd invest in it today.

    But then, the dot bomb vaporware pandemic was something I intentionally missed. Various other dot bombs I also missed.

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