MIT Introduces “Transform” Furniture That Responds to The Senses

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    Design Design Apr 21, 2014 02:49 PM EDT


    A new project from MIT’s Tangible Media Group produces “Transform”, a table-like piece of furniture that can change its shape according to the motion and emotion of the people nearby. The project is developed by Sean Follmer, Daniel Leithinger and Hiroshi Iishi and was introduced during the Milan Design Week as a part of the Lexus Design Amazing display show.

    According to the team, “Transform” is designed as a rectangular table with 1152 plastic pins. The pins are controlled individually by microprocessors that are built underneath the frame. A computer program then controls the movement of the pins to create wave motions and structures which produces a tangible narrative. In addition, the table can create abstract shapes by its own or transfer objects along the surface through the help of pre-programmed animation sequences.
    The developers of this new design wants to explore the concept of the evolution of furniture. The rationale is to study how human interaction affect materials which can be reconfigured through a computer.
    According to Amit Zoran, one of the developers, “We don’t want the furniture to become more important than the motion. We want to make it feel like it’s a unified design and they are not separate.”
    Aside from changing shapes according to human motion, the table can also sense emotions and creates a melodious movement to soothe its users.
    Hiroshi Ishii said, “Imagine, this is the equivalent of the invention of a new medium. Painting, plastic and computer graphics. It has infinite possibilities.”
    If this new design looks familiar, it’s because it has been the brainchild of the developers who also created the “InForm” project last fall. Although they look similar, “InForm” was an exploration on how computer interface can exist as a tangible concept and thus, it still acts as much as how a computer does.
    Sean Follner explained “Transform is going a little further.” He adds, “We’re saying, what could it mean to have physical interaction more embedded in your home and in your life?”
    Follmer and Daniel Leithinger foresees that in the future, technology based on computer-human interaction won’t look anything like computers. Instead, these technological innovation will be meshed into daily surroundings that people will hardly notice them at all.

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