Imagine a touchscreen that can expand while a movie is being viewed and then shrinks back to its original size when the movie is finished, or a smartphone that bends and stretches automatically to shield the user’s fingers while entering private data. Such devices could be on the market in the next five years.
Generic, Highly Organic Shape-Changing Interfaces (GHOST) technology is being developed by four European universities to let consumers use their touchscreens as 3-D displays. Users will be able to pull objects out of their computer screen and manipulate the information as it is suspended in the air with a swipe of their fingers.
Deformable screens and ultrasound levitation technology makes the GHOST research possible, according to a report from Fox News. Researchers have already developed touchscreens that automatically change shape and ways to project data into the air. One prototype allows users to break down bar charts into rows and columns once they have been pulled out of the touchscreen.
“It’s not only about deforming the shape of the screen, but also the digital object you want to manipulate, maybe even in midair,” Kasper Hornbaek, professor at the University of Copenhagen and GHOST coordinator, said in a statement. “Through ultrasound levitation technology, for example, we can project the display out of the flat screen. And thanks to deformable screens, we can plunge our fingers into it.”