Researchers at MIT have built a robotic surface that is able to manipulate objects as part of MIT's ongoing research into "physical telepresence."
The research seems to be a continuation from a report last year, in which researchers showed the use of a pin-based surface to show how a person could remotely manipulate an object, with the surface mirroring the movement of the user's hands.
The idea of a physical telepresence is essentially giving people a physical presence through digital information.
MIT's new research shows researchers able to build simple structures using this same robotic floor, with the different pins basically being raised to different heights. According to MIT, these pin-based representations give physical form to digital information, and they are able to use this information to manipulate objects that are placed on top of them.
Structures can also be assembled remotely with another set of blocks, and the display for the shapes analyzes floor records and the block arrangement of the remote blocks before it recreates them. Not only that, but the use of magnetic kinetic blocks can help create even more complex structures.
The ability to manipulate 3D objects remotely is certainly an impressive idea, and a physical telepresence could be very helpful for things like long-distance collaborations and presentations. Despite this, researchers haven't specified exactly what applications they see the project being used in.