The creative minds at MIT have come up with a dynamic shape display capable of physically changing its shape to render 3D content. It’s called inFORM and it consists of a large surface with a series of pins, actuators and linkages. As each actuator moves, it raises or lowers associated pins to create an interactive board.

An overhead projector shines down over the pins and gives them color and depth. A text description of inFORM admittedly doesn’t make a ton of sense but after watching the embedded video below, you’ll get a better understanding of exactly what it is and how it works.

The system can be paired with a Kinect motion sensor for even more imaginative action. For example, one can use inFORM to move the table’s pins simply by using your hands and it even works remotely via video conferencing. It’s no doubt neat technology but at present, I can’t say it is terribly practical. Not yet, anyway.

Researchers say they are exploring practical uses for inFORM. Areas of interest include the medical field to visualize 3D CT scans, device interaction and the manipulation of physical objects. Urban planners could also use the technology for mapping and terrain models.

As The Verge points out, it’s simply one step closer to a concept MIT realized over a decade ago called Radical Atoms, or, the future of interactivity. With Radical Atoms, MIT wants to change how we interact with computers – going from graphical user interfaces to a tactical user interface, or physically interacting with them.