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The touchscreen that can touch back

Touchscreens are everywhere. Our smartphones are controlled by them. So are our tablets, and in some cases, even our laptops. Digital signage, which has for the past several years become a staple at malls and other retailers, is rapidly adopting touch capacity as well.

For a long time, touchscreens were the future. Now, they are the present. What will come next?

How about a display that touches back?

In a way, that's how MIT's inFORM works. According to an article on Fast Company's design blog, the three-dimensional display can actually mimic real objects when connected to a computer.

If it sounds strange, just picture a Pinscreen—you know, one of those beds of pins you would play with as a kid by making a model of your hand (or face). The inForm is just like that, except the pins are thicker, and they are attached to a motor that can be manipulated to a high degree of precision. A video on the blog even shows a user tossing a red ball between his virtual "hands" on the screen.

Applications for this technology may seem frivolous, but that is only because it is so new that few have considered its full potential. Co-creator Daniel Leithinger told the news source that one of the purposes of this technology is to eventually bring back some of the tactile sensations that have been lost in our devices.

"Right now, the things designers can create with graphics are more powerful and flexible than in hardware," he said. "The result is our gadgets have been consumed by the screen and become indistinguishable black rectangles with barely any physical controls. That's why BlackBerry is dying."

At Sozo Design, we want to work with clients who have innovative ideas about what they want their products to accomplish on the market. It is always important to keep on eye on what aspects of current technology can be improved.

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