The tabletop surface is actuated by an array of 120 motorized pins, which are controlled with a platform built upon open-source hardware and software tools. Each pin can be addressed individually and senses user input like pulling and pushing as the clip below illustrates:
The system is termed a "scalable actuated shape display", created by Daniel Leithinger, Adam Kumpf, and Hiroshi Ishii of MIT's Tangible Media Group. In the chat about this around the office it was suggested was that it reminds us of the maps used in the X-Men films, now that would be a neat way to display data.
Picked up via Make.