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Brief Published: 16 Dec 2015

Reality Editor

Researchers from MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group in Massachusetts have designed an app that allows users to connect and reprogramme physical objects around them.

The app, called Reality Editor, maps a virtual interface directly onto an object via augmented reality, and breaks down the item's functionality into its most basic components. Using an open-source platform called Open Hybrid, the user's smartphone can learn the different parts and functionalities of various objects and assign these functions to another object.

For example, a user could assign the timer from their toaster to their food processor by viewing the toaster through the app and drawing a line from its timer component to the food processor's motor. This would automatically connect the two over the Open Hybrid server and allow them to use each other's functions.

As smart objects start to proliferate, so do the apps that operate them – which can make managing the connected world confusing. Using Reality Editor to reallocate functions between objects declutters physical interfaces.

The idea supports a future where physical objects can predict and respond to users' needs, without requiring any command. As explored in Digital Worlds Update: The Consumer of 2030, the Internet of Things will soon provide monitoring and predictive tools for all aspects of life. Consumers increasingly expect seamless interaction with the world around them and brands should consider ways to facilitate this.