MIT Media lab makes interfaces more interesting

Those crazy kids over at MIT have once again caught our attention with the latest project from the Media Lab. Recompose is part interface and part display combining both gesture and keyboard inputs, with tactile outputs. Or, as they put it “a new system for manipulation of an actuated surface. By collectively utilising the body as a tool for direct manipulation alongside gestural input for functional manipulation, we show how a user is afforded unprecedented control over an actuated surface."

In a release on the MIT Media Lab website, the team says: “Our system builds upon the Relief table, developed by Leithinger. The table consists of an array of 120 individually addressable pins, whose height can be actuated and read back simultaneously, thus allowing the user to utilise them as both input and output. Building upon this system, we have furthered the design by placing a depth camera above the tabletop surface.

“By gaining access to the depth information we are able to detect basic gestures from the user. In order to provide visual feedback related to user interaction, a projector is mounted above the table and calibrated to be coincident with the depth camera. Computer vision is utilised to determine and recognise the position, orientation, and height of hands and fingers, in order to detect gestural input.”

Which, roughly translated means that not only can Recompose recognise user inputs, it can provide a three dimensional representation of them using the actuated surface.