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Brief Published: 18 Sep 2014

Thaw: Computer-Smartphone Interactions

Thaw is a new software system that enables smartphones and computers to interact seamlessly together. Using Thaw, a smartphone can act as a physical interface and additional graphics layer to a main computer screen.

Developed by the Tangible Media Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, the technology's applications include adding extra functionality to computer games, or enabling ultra-speedy data transfer between devices. The demonstration video (above) shows how files can be transferred between a computer and smartphone with a simple swipe.

Thaw works by tracking the position of a smartphone over a computer screen using a colour pattern that is captured using the smartphone's back-facing camera. It needs no additional hardware to operate.

"We live in an increasingly digital world, but that world is fractured between many screens and interfaces," says Philipp Schoessler, who worked on the project. "The question we wanted to try to answer with Thaw was how can we combine these computer interfaces and screens into a single seamless experience," he told US magazine Fast Company.

From tablets and phablets to wearables and hearables, it's now standard for consumers to own multiple tech devices – and constantly switch between them. Therefore, devices that work seamlessly with each other will thrive.

For more on the future of technology, take a look at our Post-Digital Macro Trend and New Frontiers: Digital Tools, Techniques & Treatments.