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Shake Hands with the Future: UIs Go Atomic

10 · DEC ·2013

Arguably, the user interfaces of the future will be defined by the physical limitations of the screen. Creating a compelling user experience within a finite (and limited) space without compromising on usability is the perennial challenge for mobile device and TV manufacturers. But when witnessing the rise of the wearable technology trend, coupled with recently leaked pictures of the LG Flex’s controversial ‘curved’ screen design, the notion of the ‘traditional’ pixel-based user interface must evolve.

In addition, many believe the loss of the buttons and switches that created tactile intimacy between us and our handsets means the UI becomes the anchor point between the consumer and the device. So, how do we create true junction between the physical and a 2-D, pixelated world?

According to scientists at MIT, the user interfaces of the future will step into the third dimension as pixels make way for atoms. A ground-breaking initiative at the Institute has seen the creation of atomic user interfaces that don’t just manifest light, they also reproduce matter. Now allowing us to shake hands with someone a thousand miles away, MIT’s new UI, inFORM, has transformed popular executive desk toy, the Pinscreen, into a digital content rendering tool which converts digital instructions into physical form. It can also detect human interaction through Kinects sensors and react to that. The details of the project can be read here.

By bringing physical interaction back to our relationship with technology, we could all enjoy a future where we substitute the smiley or the ‘like’ with a real handshake.

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Posted by Sanita Karra