We've seen touchscreen technology evolve over the years; but it has never really developed further than pressing against a flat display. However, a new prototype called 'Obake,' designed by Dhairya Dand and Rob Hemsley of MIT's Media Lab, hopes to change this with an elastic screen - bringing a literal meaning to gestures such as pinch-to-zoom.
This "2.5D display" uses a projector to show the image on-screen, which can be manipulated to perform gestures. The silicone material can detect push and pull input using the depth sensing camera, while actuators hold the shape of the display to where it has been contorted.
The inspiration behind this has been to recreate the "fluidity and malleability" of water, while also allowing traditional gestures (along with some multitouch functionality) to make 3D geometric shapes.
While there are no plans to bring this directly to smartphones or tablets (and, lets be honest, that's not going to happen for a long time, due to it's complex setup), this has set the wheels in motion for Dand and Hemsley's research. They will continue looking into this exciting new form of 3D display interaction.
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