REMEMBER THE DAYS of buttons and textures, before everything became a flat touchscreen?
They could be with us again thanks to the latest research into flexible screens. As we wrestle with the first phones with flexible displays, researchers at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group have been demonstrating a new type of monitor that morphs to shape.
At its simplest, imagine a pinscreen - one of those executive toys where you put body parts against it and it moulds to shape. However this new technology can be made at pixel sized definition and connected to a computer system.
At the moment the inFORM is little more than a proof of concept, but it demonstrates clearly the potential for not only morphing displays, but also the ability to send touch via the internet. It is entirely realistic that technology like this could be used to allow you to hold hands with a loved one from the other side of the world, or shake hands on an agreement with someone you have never met.
Naturally, it didn't take long for us to speculate that the biggest users of this technology will more than likely end up being the porn industry, but let us not think too hard about that aspect of it right now.
While the premise of programmable matter has been explored before, this is the most tangible evidence yet that another sense is about to be transmittable through the internet. With a renaissance in AI technology slowly beginning to bud, it is quite likely that this could lead to total immersion experiences in the future. We just need to work out how to transmit taste and smell.
And possibly shame and resentment as well. µ