List of Physical Visualizations
and Related Artifacts

2009 – Leithinger's Interactive Shape Displays




Daniel Leithinger, PhD student at MIT MediaLab and his colleagues, are studying interaction with shape displays. The team designed two impressive shape displays made of arrays of ultra-fast motorized pins.

Relief (2009-2010, first row above) is made of 120 motorized pins on top of which can be added a rubber sheet and a projected image. Each pin can be addressed individually and senses user input like pulling and pushing. In 2011, the team extends Relief (later renamed Recompose, second row above) with a depth camera, allowing users to interact with it through mid-air gestures.

inFORM (2013, last row above) is a higher-resolution version made of 900 motorized pins (30 x 30). Leithinger and his colleagues use it to demonstrate a range of features and use case scenarios, including the exploration of physical visualizations.


  1. Leithinger et al (2009) Relief project page. Scientific publication here (2010).
  2. Lakatos et al (2011) Recompose project page. Scientific publications here (2011) and here (2011).
  3. Leithinger et al (2013) InFORM project page. Scientific publications here (2013) and here (2014). 

Added by: Pierre Dragicevic. Category: Active physical visualization  Tags: cartographic, interaction, MIT, shape display