“It looks like magic, but it’s just tech.”

The quote above is from the season finale of Fringe. A hot redheaded villainous vixen explains how a human visitor from the future is able to catch the bullets she fired at him. He uses advance future technology that allowed him to move really fast. The above quote, of couse, is a paraphrase of a famous Arthur C. Clarke quote: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Touchscreen concepts have been around longer than 2007 when the iPhone was first introduced. But it was the iPhone that truly brought touch input to the public consciousness and made touching, swiping and pinching ubiquitous as universal device control mechanisms. While marketers may present this type of input as practical and even natural, it may only just serve a stepping stone to something else. The idea of the adjacent possible prevents the collective consciousness from envisioning the really radical. Instead, there has to be a connecting point or multiple connecting points.

For example, the physical keyboard is giving way to the virtual keyboard, but the physical and virtual keyboards are still keyboards. The departure isn’t that far. Meanwhile, tapping and swiping had already been introduced by Apple in laptop models. Now, gesture-based controls, like the technology employed in the Kinect, are already making inroads.

But we haven’t seen anything yet. Disney Research — yes, that same Disney, the Empire of the Mouse — has designed a new sensory system that can turn any material, including liquids, into a multitouch interface. This system is dubbed, Touché. From this Talking Point Memo article:

“The system, called Touché, has already been demonstrated in a number of impressive practical prototypes created by the researchers — from a ‘smart doorknob’ that can sense precisely how it is being gripped and lock or unlock itself accordingly, to a container full of water that can detect when a person’s hand is skimming the surface or completely submerged to even a person’s own body, which can be turned into an input for controlling the volume of a smartphone or other digital music player.

A ‘sensing couch’ using Touché automatically detects when a user is sitting and turns on their TV, then adjusts the room’s lighting when the user reclines, finally turning the TV and lights off if the person falls asleep in front of their TV.”


We are more logged in today than we have ever been. Smart devices, like smartphones and tablets, enable us to be always logged in with mobile notifications. In the not too distance future, the concept of always being wired in will reach a whole new dimension.