MIT inFORM Pushes 3D Frontier

You’ve seen 3D printing. You’ve even seen 4D printing. And you’ve also seen the many dozens of cool manufacturing technologies at work in factories today.

But in terms of driving innovation and really showing us that “the future is now,” few technologies are as innovative and ground-breaking as what you see in the video above.

This new technology, called inFORM, is being developed by MIT. It’s also called a Dynamic Shape Display, and “it’s a large surface that sits atop a series of pins, actuators, and linkages.” When used with a Kinect sensor (yes, the sensors currently in use on Microsoft’s Xbox), users can interact and actually “touch” objects using the display. We definitely recommend watching through the video for a visual walkthrough of what inFORM does.

As the Verge (linked above) reports, there are a handful of real-world applications for inFORM:

  • 3D visualizations of CT scans and other medical uses
  • Device interaction
  • The manipulation of physical objects
  • Mapping and terrain models, which could be used by urban planners and architects to better visualize and share 3D design

The technology is still in its infancy, so we expect many more uses to pop up as time goes on. But for now, we’re left thinking–how cool is this?

While MIT’s inFORM may not have a direct application to manufacturing (yet, at least), it is a stunning representation of the way that technology is completely changing the ways we interact. InFORM would’ve been seen as impossible as recently as 10 years ago, so we can’t even begin to imagine what technology we’ll have in another 10 years.

At a time when technology is essential to the rebound of manufacturing and manufacturing itself is creating new, high-tech jobs, innovation like this is essential. Even though inFORM isn’t something that’s totally applicable to the manufacturing space, this type of thinking and innovation is exactly what we need from young, STEM-minded students. They will be the ones to help manufacturing evolve!

So if you’re a student and you’re reading this, just think about what could be possible with a little bit of creativity and a commitment to STEM. Today, we’re bringing 3D shapeshifting to life with technology–but what does tomorrow hold? That’s something that only future generations can tell us, and something that we’re very excited to see develop throughout the rest of our lifetime.