Touchscreens these days are pretty static—they are merely slabs of glass that users can tap and that is about it. Sure, there’s technology out there that causes the screen to vibrate, known as haptic feedback, but there is still not much interactivity.
European researchers may have solved that issue with a technology they are dubbing GHOST, short for ‘Generic, Highly-Organic Shape-Changing Interfaces.’ GHOST will enable users to manipulate the shape of a display with their hands, just by tugging at it.
“It’s not only about deforming the shape of the screen, but also the digital object you want to manipulate, maybe even in mid-air,” explains GHOST coordinator Kasper Hornbæk from the University of Copenhagen. “Through ultrasound levitation technology, for example, we can project the display out of the flat screen. And thanks to deformable screens we can plunge our fingers into it.”
The team has already shown off a plethora of prototypes displaying what the technology can do, including pulling out information from a 3D bar chart.
Yes, that’s right. Watch a 3D bar chart emerge from a touchscreen in the video below.
It is not just about 3D objects you can see and touch, however. One spin-off project created by researchers at the University of Bristol uses ultrasound to create feeling in mid-air, even when nothing is present. This concept is being dubbed ‘UltraHaptics‘ and has already attracted seed funding, as well as 12 employees.
“Displays which change shape as you are using them are probably only five years off now,” says Hornbæk. “This will have all sorts of implications for the future, from everyday interaction with mobile phones to learning with computers and design work.”