Touchscreens are pretty cool. After all, they kinda helped completely revolutionize the way we use everyday tech. Sadly, they remain a little one-note. A flat screen with images that you touch. That’s about it.
Until now. Dun dun dun.
Dhairya Dand and Rob Hemsley of MIT’s Media Lab have created Obake, the touchscreen to revolutionize all touchscreens. Obake is stretchable or elastic, which allows for all forms of possible manipulation. Because, after all, strange computer interfaces are all the rage.
The “screen” is on an elastic surface, allowing the user to push, pull and pinch it. Depth cameras measure these pushes, pulls and pinches to have the surface display emulate what you’ve just done.
It’s fairly confusing, but it comes down to this: the display will remain two-dimensional, but the screen itself can be pulled in three dimensions. This way, you can quickly create mountains and rivers on a flat screen (see the video below for a visual representation of this map-making).
And that’s what has always made 3D displays difficult. Not creating the material, but having the screen display follow the movements you make with your hands. Obake conquers that particular mountain.
Sadly, this technology isn’t expected to show up on our smartphones any time in the near future. But this is a major step toward that day.