Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed augmented cables that can be knotted, stretched or pinched to control digital devices.
The cables are designed so that physical actions reflect digital outcomes – just as tying a knot in a hose slows the stream of water, a knotted cable might dim a lamp, while tightening it would dim the lamp further. The group created five prototypes, including cables that pause music and eject hard drives, to show the concept's potential.
These "metaphor-rich interactions" will make for more interesting tangible interfaces, according to the researchers. "This simple interaction could be used to control almost any other variable – it is also a physical embodiment of that variable's state," the group said in a statement.
The researchers are part of MIT's Tangible Media Group, a group that aims to give physical form to digital information. Earlier this year, the group trialled Social Textiles – clothing that connects you to nearby people with similar interests or emotional statuses.