Discovery News is billing the TRANSFORM table as a possible first step into Holodeck technology. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let’s clarify what a Holodeck is and where it comes from. The Holodeck is an immersive virtual reality simulation program used on Star Trek. The Holodeck was used for training purposes but it could be used for recreational purposes as well. Unlike the VR we know today, the Holodeck was not only imagery, it had a physical sense to it as well, meaning you could interact with your surroundings physically. For example, if you were in a boat you could actually touch the water the boat was floating on. The Holodeck is one of Star Trek fans favorite pieces of technology, well certainly one of mine anyway.
MIT Tangible Media Group, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, are responsible for the TRANSFORM table. The table responds to user interaction using 1,000 independently operating pins and motors to achieve the response. Right now it’s simply a wave motion when the users hand is waved over the pins, makes you feel kind of like Professor X. Take a look at the videos below to learn just a bit more about the project.
For now, the table is just an experiment in fusing technology and design: What if furniture could anticipate your intent, and change shape or move? But according to the Tangible Media Group project page, it’s all part of the larger “Radical Atoms” vision that could eventually incorporate elements of virtual reality and nanotechnology. The goal? Material that morphs on the fly into whatever object is required.
“Radical Atoms is a vision for the future of human-material interaction, in which all digital information has a physical manifestation so that we can interact directly with it. We no longer think of designing the interface, but rather of the interface itself as material.”
As you can see they’re still not anywhere near what Captain Picard and his crew used on a daily basis, but it is exciting to see technology moving forward and people with vision trying to make fiction into reality. What do you think of the TRANSFORM table? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.