Tag Archives: Hobson

Interacting with the Atmel-powered morphing table

Last week, Bits & Pieces reported that MIT researchers had created a morphing table with Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) under the hood. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the platform’s interactive features.

Dubbed inFORM: Dynamic Physical Affordances and Constraints through Shape and Object Actuation, the Atmel-powered table is equipped with a number of ATMega2560s, along with 900 individually actuated white polystyrene pins that make up the surface in an array of 30 x 30 pixels.

An overhead projector provides visual guidance of the system, with each pin capable of actuating 100mm and exerting a force of up to 1.08 Newtons each. Actuation is achieved via push-pull rods that are utilized to maximize the dense pin arrangement – making the display independent of the size of the actuators.

MIT’s latest configuration of the morphing table features two separate interfaces – adding a display so viewers can observe the individual who is manipulating the surface. As HackADay’s James Hobson notes, MIT’s advanced platform opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the tactile digital experience.

“The inFORM also has a projector shining on the surface, which allows the objects shown from the other side to be both visually and physically seen — they use an example of opening a book and displaying its pages on the surface,” he explained.

“To track the hand movements they use a plain old Microsoft Kinect, which works extremely well. They also show off the table as a standalone unit, an interactive table. Now all they need to do is make the pixels smaller.”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered morphing table? You can check out MIT’s official project page here.