ZeroN
Levitated Interaction Element - published at ACM UIST 2011.
Jinha Lee and Rehmi Post
Advisor: Hiroshi Ishii

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I think there is something fundamental behind motivations to liberate physical matter from gravity and enable control. The motivation has existed as a shared dream amongst humans for millennia. It is an idea found in mythologies, desired by alchemists, and visualized in Science Fiction movies. I have aspired to create a space where we can experience a glimpse of this future. A space where materials are free from gravitational constraints and controllable through computing technologies.ZeroN is about liberating materials from the constraints of space and time by blending the physical and digital world.

ZeroN is a new physical/digital interaction element that can be levitated and moved freely by computer in a three dimensional space. Both the computer and people can move the ZeroN simultaneously. In doing so, people and computers can physically interact with one another in 3D space. Users are invited to place or move the ZeroN just as they can place any other objects on surfaces. Once levitated, ZeroN's behavior can be digitally programmed. For example, users can place the sun above physical objects to cast digital shadows, or place a planet that will start revolving based on simulated physical conditions.

ZeroN can remember how it has been moved. Physical motions of people can be collected in this medium to preserve and play them back indefinitely. When the users move and release the ZeroN, it continues to float and starts to move along the same path. This allows a unique, tangible record of a user's physical presence and motion which will continue to exist.



From Levitation Point to Levitation Space
To realize such interactions, we developed a magnetic control system that can levitate and actuate a permanent magnet in a pre- defined 3D volume. This is combined with an optical tracking and display system that projects images on the levitating object. Conventional levitation only enables levitating an object at one point. In ZeroN Project, users can move a levitated object to anywhere in a predefined 3D space and leave it there without dropping it since the system constantly readjusts both magnetically and mechanically. It is about turning 3D space into levitating space.


Many thanks to Max Lobovsky, Ilan Moyer, Bee Vang for assistance in Mechanical Implementation, Robert Jacob, Joseph Paradiso, Pattie Maes, Ken Perlin, Jeff Lieberman, Cati Boulanger, Jean-Baptiste Labrune (advice&discussion), Kris Shin, Surat Teerapittayanon (software help).

Jinha Lee, Rehmi Post, and Hiroshi Ishii. 2011. ZeroN: mid-air tangible interaction enabled by computer controlled magnetic levitation. In Proceedings of the 24th annual ACM UIST '11. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 327-336.

Press
WIRED UK Magazine: Interface floating in space
FastCodesign: MIT Creates Amazing UI From Levitating Orbs
ACM TechNews
GIZMODO: Magnetically Levitating Balls Could Be the Future of Computer Interfaces
Engadget: ZeroN slips surly bonds, re-runs your 3D gestures in mid-air
MIT Video : ZeroN
MIT Media Lab Labcast: ZeroN
WIRED.COM
Designboom: MIT media lab: zeroN
Blaze: your eyes aren’t fooling you- this ball is levitating.
The Verge: ZeroN magnetic levitation system can playback movements in space.
Educatioedearth.net: ZeroN - MIT's Revolutionary Computer Interface
Popsci: MIT's Latest User Interface Employs Gravity-Defying, Levitating Metal Orbs
Gizmag: ZeroN system holds a ball wherever you place it, in mid-air
ALT1040
International Business Times
The Technology Cafe:
Spiegel Online: Mensch-Maschine-SchnittstelleInteragieren über schwebende Kugel
Hungary: index.hu (hungarian news portal)
Antigravitációs kezelőfelületet mutatott be az MIT


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