I was just flipping through the Intel Developer Forum talks and noticed something called “Dynamic Physical Rendering”. Turns out to be a very interesting project from Carnegie Mellon which proposes to recreate 3D shapes, perhaps even colors and textures, using man-made “catoms”. These catoms would be nanotechnology devices able to communicate with each other and reconfigure themselves into appropriate shapes based on what is seen in a remote sensing device.
Imaging something similar to today’s motion capture systems. Your friend Shigeru in Tokyo has one set up, and gives you a call; the data representing his form is sent over to you and reproduced in 3D using catoms. So it appears that Shigeru is in the room talking with you, without need of special glasses or whatnot.
Obviously this is a long-term research project. But it’s fun to look at the early work on the CMU website anyway. 🙂
Intel has a good article about the research as well. Cool stuff!