Relief: 3D interactive maps

Relief: 3D interactive maps

Called a “scalable actuated shape display”, this project by Daniel Leithinger, Adam Kumpf, and Hiroshi Ishii of MIT’s Tangible Media Group seems especially suited for displaying terrain.

Relief is an actuated tabletop display, which is able to render and animate three-dimensional shapes with a malleable surface. It allows users to experience and form digital models like geographical terrain in an intuitive manner. The tabletop surface is actuated by an array of 120 motorized pins, which are controlled with a platform built upon open-source hardware and software tools. Each pin can be addressed individually and senses user input like pulling and pushing.

[via the Eyebeam ReBlog]

6 thoughts on “Relief: 3D interactive maps

  1. Daniel T says:

    That’s cool. It just reminded me of this project from waaay back in 2005.

  2. Math Campbell says:

    This *is* cool, but I can see a few ways to maybe improve on it…

    Firstly, make it bigger. Higher resolution of terrain would increase the usefullness and also since the balls holding the (cloth?) on would be smaller, more realistic.
    Secondly (and I know it’s not really fair, given this was at an event), but in situ, you’d want a much brighter projector. Way brighter.
    On top of that though, why not make the area surrounding the table touch-sensitive? Maybe even just make the entire top-panel of the table (not the part with the map, obviously) black glass, a la an iPhone, and put a couple of touchscreens in there, so you can intuitively move the display around, zoom etc. and have your controls inside.
    Obviously though, this is a demo-prototype. That’s the sorta thing that you’d do on the production model. I am still damned impressed though. Very very nifty idea, and with haptics, touchscreen tech and mapping all coming to the fore now, this is an idea whose time has come.

    Until someone can get a 3d hologram projector going that is. Then I want a 3D globe you can move around in real-time….

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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