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Brief Published: 22 Aug 2013

Touchscreen Bathtub


Researchers at Tokyo’s Koike Laboratory have developed a computing system that transforms the surface of bathwater into an interactive touchscreen interface.

Aquatop is powered by customised Microsoft Kinect sensors and projectors that can detect movement both above and below the waterline, allowing users to enjoy three-dimensional interaction.

  • Virtual objects move across the water’s surface as if they are physically in the water, using fluid physics simulation.
  • Users can move and manipulate virtual objects, with the water providing tactile feedback.
  • Possible interactions including drag and drop, zoom and delete.

The Aquatop was developed as a way to improve entertainment options during bath time. The team at Koike Laboratory has designed a variety of immersive games to be played on the water-based system, complete with underwater speakers to provide sound effects and haptic feedback.

Scientists and designers around the world are experimenting with alternative user interfaces to provide maximum interaction between the digital and physical worlds. For example, the Obake, made by designers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in the US, is a flexible touchscreen that allows users to pinch, poke and mould its surface.

For more information on how the user interface is changing, see The New User Interface, Touch-Free Tech and Elastic Tech, part of our new macro trend Agile Futures.