Future InterFace

If you're a graphic designer AND a germophobe, you're going to have quite the dilemma in the upcoming years. Hideki Koike and colleagues (University of Electro-Communications) have been working with Kentaro Fukuchi (Japan Science and Technology Agency) to develop a brilliantly squishy computer interface that will make animation and design programs even easier to use.

Dubbed "photoelastic touch," a camera positioned directly above an LED tabletop can read the polarized light variations in transparent rubber shapes when they're held above the screen. The 3-D interactions would allow features such as interchangeable computer buttons (eliminating the need to memorize all those Photoshop shortcuts!), a physical paintbrush tool, and later on, science applications - like giving aspiring surgeons a 3-D model of the brain to practice operating on.

There's a nice, long demonstration video on Hideki Koike's website, but otherwise, New Scientist seems to be the first and only group with a press release.

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