PinsChad Dyner, Brad Kaanta, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii / 2003


Pins generates dynamic three-dimensional geometries within a tabletop environment serving both as volumetric display and co-spatial input device. Our goal is to liberate otherwise static everyday objects and surfaces with intelligent materials that react to both environmental and user input. Within this realm, we intend to redefine the boundary layer between positive and negative space in which the materiality and surface form become tangible portals into the digital world.

The display component of Pins comprises a densely packed array of discrete nodes operating in harmony as a computationally deformable surface. The geometric representation allows the visualization of geometric, scalar, and relational change of complex form over time. A tangible overlaid input component allows users to manipulate and mold surfaces and tabletop objects using both hands directly on the surface of Pins. Similarly the surface is responsive to environmental change (i.e. placement of an object on the surface) thereby serving as sensor skin to capture ambient and physical world variations.

Applications for Pins are wide ranging as they fundamentally transform the way we interact with our world. Surfaces are no longer static, but shape-shift dynamically to re-accommodate for changing current tasks establishing a flexible input/output platform. We envision Pins for urban planning, geological, and medical simulations in which the display and manipulation of physical data is optimally represented as a tangible duplicate of the original form.