Microsoft Research tends to show off its experimental projects in waves, and just this morning, we saw its wild RoomAlive gaming concept. By contrast, FlexSense is a much simpler and subtler project, but it’s no less intriguing.
Essentially, FlexSense is a transparent, self-sensing surface that can sit atop a tablet - a surface on a Surface, for example - and recognize itself being folded, contorted, and flipped up off of the touch display. It’s like a see-through sheet of paper that sits atop your tablet.
What’s the point, you might ask? As the video above shows, there are real productive opportunities here, such as working with multiple layers in Photoshop, or creating animation by flipping between a completed cel and then drawing the next in the sequence.
But there are also entertainment opportunities here, with the demos showing a user flipping the cover upwards to view a crossword solution, or flapping the surface like it’s a flying carpet soaring through a 3D environment.
Microsoft developed two new algorithms to interpret the 16 sensors built into FlexSense, and it requires no external camera to function. Like most Microsoft Research revelations, we very well may never see this tech appear as-is in a consumer product. But the know-how could pop up years from now in a very meaningful way.