Display Turns Water Surface Into An Interactive Digital Screen

New ways of interacting with digital displays can bring about important new possibilities for working – as the Kinect-based Intera system for surgeons has proved. Now Japanese researchers have unveiled the AquaTop, which consists of a display projected onto the surface of water, controlled by interacting with the liquid.

The AquaTop uses cloudy water to act as a projection surface and – similar to the Intera – detects gestures with a Kinect. The creators engineered the system to use the water surface as an integral part of its control – for example, one action is carried out when users dip their fingertips to interact with a screen object, and another when they approach the item from underneath the water. On-screen items also react to the movement of the water, meaning that they can be moved or changed by simply disrupting the surface with a splash, or scooping up the water and placing it elsewhere.

The system has currently been rigged up primarily as a platform for games – with an underwater speaker included to create ripples when a goal is achieved – although researchers have also demonstrated how it could be used to interact with computer files such as images and video.

Why I’m Curious:

AquaTop shows the possibilities of widely-available consumer products in the creation of engaging and intuitive new ways to interact with digital objects. Considering how we take our devices with us wherever we go, this could be used practically – bringing electronics safely into the bathroom, for example – or for creating unique public displays. And if water can become a medium for digital interaction, other surface possibilities are endless.

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