When it comes to pretty much anything new and exciting, MIT and all of their various labs are almost always fairly dependable.

More recently, the team at the school’s Tangible Media Group updated their interactive pin table – a table that’s capable of reproducing a virtual version of any object placed under its sensors in real time – to be able to lift and stack building blocks in any predetermined pattern or array.

The table, which is made from a grid of independent pins that are able to extend and retract based on a particular program, brings to mind the “Pin Art” boxes that became wildly popular in the 1990s.

“Pin-based shape displays not only give physical form to digital information, they have the inherent ability to accurately move and manipulate objects placed on top of them,” explains the development team. “(The display is able to) assemble, disassemble, and reassemble structures from simple passive building blocks through stacking, scaffolding, and catapulting.”

Although there’s no formal announcement of when or how this could be used in more practical applications, one can only imagine what might be possible in five to ten years when considering today’s existing smart home infrastructures.

Be sure to check out rest of the group’s impressive projects over at Tangible.media.mit.edu


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.