Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed ZeroN, a futuristic user interface that consists of “a small metal orb floating in free space that users can manipulate by moving around and placing in midair.” Continue reading to see it in-action and for more information.
The trick to all this is a precision electromagnet fitted to a moving actuator above the ZeroN’s workspace. The electromagnet can move around the space above and rapidly adjust its magnetic pull or resistance based on where the ZeroN is in space, a value that is measured every few milliseconds by an array of IR cameras. So while the ZeroN appears to float as if in defiance of gravity, the setup is purely mechanical. All it really requires is a very precise electromagnet and the right software to keep the orb stable.