It’s the classic conflict presented by touchscreens — they display beautiful content that reacts instantly to your every move, but you can’t operate them without obscuring part of your view. A team at the National Taiwan University in Taipei is taking an neat approach to solving the problem, however, with tiny screens that you can wear on your fingertips. The team envisages the technology being used with flexible displays that fit over your nails like polish, but sadly notes that such a screen is not yet commercially available.
Instead, the current NailDisplay prototype is a thimble-sized 96 x 64 OLED screen which syncs to the phone and displays relevant information. Touch a virtual keyboard with your thumb, for example, and the display will show you which “key” is being pressed — effectively letting you see “through” the digit. Another use case imagined is as a screen for a device that otherwise wouldn’t have one, such as an iPod shuffle. The team says it wants to investigate the possibilities for multiple devices at once, as well as the potential for eye-tracking software to improve the sensation of a “transparent finger.”
Why I’m curious: Not for the screen on your finger when it’s blocking the screen, but the concept of adding a screen via your finger to an object that doesn’t have a screen is interesting. Behaviorally we are learning to by pass the surface and just focus on the experience. As we continue to find ways for technology to fit seamlessly into a users day to day, I wonder where this will net out.