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ACM TechNews

Mit Creates Amazing Ui From Levitating Orbs

Tyler McCormick

University of Washington professor Tyler McCormick

Credit: University of Washington

Jinha Lee from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Tangible Media Group has been experimenting with developing a tactile user interface (UI) in which floating objects are manipulated in three-dimensional (3D) space.

Lee's prototype ZeroN UI harnesses electromagnetism so that a user can place a metal ball in midair. The orb can be repositioned manually by a computer, it can be animated on a path, and it can function as a virtual camera or light source in a 3D scene with the assistance of software. The interface features a 3D actuator housing an electromagnet, which keeps the ball stable by creating a perfectly tuned magnetic loop. The actuator repositions itself to drag the ball around lateral space, moving in tandem with the object and tracking its position with 3D infrared cameras.

"ZeroN can remember how it has been moved," Lee notes. "Physical motions of people can be collected in this medium to preserve and play them back indefinitely."

Lee envisions the UI being adopted for numerous applications, including animation prototyping, physics simulation and education, and 3D design studios.

From Fast Company
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