Kinetic Blocks: MIT’s 3D Shapeshifting Assembling Riverbed
If you were a 90’s kid like me, you might remember visiting your local mall and going to a store called Spencer Gifts. This is the place where you would buy your lava lamps, glow in the dark posters, and other random neat stuff that the average stoner college student would put in their smoke room. But they also had that metal needle thing you could put your face on where it imprints your entire face by moving all the needles to contour to your face. Well, imagine if those needles could move on their own to move things placed onto them? MIT may have just done that with their 3D pixel shapeshifting riverbed.
MIT’s Tangible Media Group has unveiled what they’re calling the Kinetic Block, which is a shapeshifting display of what looks like a river of lines of 3-D pixel blocks that can move around objects and construct objects based on what’s put onto the riverbed. What makes this interesting is that it could possibly replace the typical assembly line construction norm we use with most things today.
“Pin-based shape displays not only give physical form to digital information, they have the inherent ability to accurately move and manipulate objects placed on top of them. In this paper we focus on such object manipulation: we present ideas and techniques that use the underlying shape change to give kinetic ability to otherwise inanimate objects. First, we describe the shape display’s ability to assemble, disassemble, and reassemble structures from simple passive building blocks through stacking, scaffolding, and catapulting. A technical evaluation demonstrates the reliability of the presented techniques. Second, we introduce special kinematic blocks that are actuated and sensed through the underlying pins. These blocks translate vertical pin movements into other degrees of freedom like rotation or horizontal movement. This interplay of the shape display with objects on its surface allows us to render otherwise inaccessible forms, like overhangs, and enables richer input and output.” (Via MIT)
Kinetic Blocks is essentially a bed of computer-controlled pins — like that metal thing, but more expensive — that uses the Microsoft Kinect as an eye in the sky to overlook what is happening. In the video below, you can see more of what Kinetic Blocks does.
Check out more about the Kinetic Blocks project at the MIT website.
(Via Design Boom)
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.