Scientists in Tokyo may have stumbled onto the most important advancement in touchscreen technology yet. They filled a bathtub with water, projected onto it and have created the worlds first liquid touchscreen. It’s the future, but not as we know it.
The process is like a Frankenstein of modern technology, but seems to work in practice. A bathtub is filled with salts or soap products to make the water murky. Murky water, according to the video is the perfect layer for a projection. The projector is mounted on the wall, along with a Kinect sensor (as it measures depth) — this potent combo is capable of measuring individual fingers as they break the surface of the water. In action it’s spectacular. And because the Kinect measures depth, movement below and above the surface is detected.
Fluid simulators create the watery look of the OS. It looks natural, and fairly cool. There’s even pinch to zoom. To drag and drop, the user would actually scoop up the content and drop it physically into the water. Unlike 99% of every other OS out there, interaction is physical, there’s feedback to the sweeps and gestures. To delete, the user sinks their hand into the object and the water swallows it whole.
The makers of AquaTop even say that their creation is more accurate than traditional touchscreens, simply because the watery screen provides physical interaction. The potential for games though, is a far more exciting aspect of the AquaTop.
The games demoed were just proof-of-concepts. A lightsabre, a Dragonball Z style ball of light (looked the niftiest), and a shooting game that was very Geometry Wars. What interests us the most though is the force-feedback, which was created by waterproofing speakers. The speakers, when immersed make a 50hz “energy wave” that rumbles the surface of the water.