Despite haptics offering some kind of “feel”, touchscreen technology has remained resolutely two dimensional. But it probably won’t always be that way, and the Obake screen, a prototype created across the pond at MIT, offers a tantalising glimpse of what might be just around the corner.
Obake (named after a mythical Japanese shapeshifter) resembles a drum, with an elastic skin stretched over a cylinder. Images can be projected on to the skin and it can be manipulated by one or two hands in order to register inputs (a camera detects the skin’s movement). The video below demonstrates what Obake, described by its makers as a “2.5D display”, offers over standard 2D touchscreens.
Obviously this particular system won’t be wending its way to your smartphone any time soon, but there are other applications for it: design (for manipulating and creating 3D objects) and education are two examples that immediately come to mind.
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