Researcher Jinha Lee at MIT has developed a remarkable way to interact with computers — via a programmable, intelligent and gravity-defying metal ball.
The concept, called “ZeroN”, is demonstrated in the video above. Fascinating!
Using magnets and computer-controlled motors, ZeroN hovers in mid-air between two control units. Its movements can be pre-programmed or it can react to objects in its environment, and it can apparently “learn” new movements as it is interacted with.
Lee demonstrates how it could be used to control camera positions in 3D applications, and (my favorite) model the motions of planets and stars.
“ZeroN is about liberating materials from the constraints of space and time by blending the physical and digital world,” Lee states on his website.
ZeroN is still in its development stages and obviously needs refining (the 3D camera isn’t much use if the ball is wobbling) but the premise is interesting. I can see something like this being, at the very least, a mesmerizing interactive display for museums, classrooms and multimedia presentations.
Of course, with a little ingenuity a whole world of applications could open up for such a zero-g interface. (I’m sure Tony Stark already has a dozen on pre-order!)