Imaginary Phone Concept Takes The Screen Out Of Touchscreen

Researches embark on imaginary interfaces.

Published Thu, May 26 2011 7:08 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:31 PM CST
As confusing as that headline may sound, it's not a joke: Researchers Sean Gustafson, Christian Holz and Patrick Baudisch of the Hasso-Plattner Institute have created a working prototype of a touch interface that literally you can hold in is the palm of your hand.

A wearable depth camera tracks the user's movements on the surface of the palm of his or hand, corresponding to specific commands for an iPhone or other touchscreen phone, such as sliding to unlock and time settings. I just recently returned from the Augmented Reality Event in Santa Clara, of which author Vernor Vinge was one of the keynote speakers. His 2006 novel, Rainbows End, is one of the key ideological foundations of the AR industry, and in that book he features characters that can manipulate electronics and the internet by a set of clothes he describes as "wearables".

The future is now, kiddos. Phase 1: Imaginary Interfaces. Phase 2: interacting with the internet by shrugging your shoulders. Anybody else giddy?

Imaginary Phone allows users to control their mobile devices without taking it out of their pocket. Instead, users mimic the interaction on the palm of their hand. The interaction is tracked by a wearable depth camera which sends input events to the actual physical device. By mimicking the layout of the physical device, here an iPhone, users can operate the device based on spatial memory built up while using the physical device.

More info at

The shown work is a research project by Sean Gustafson, Christian Holz and Prof. Patrick Baudisch at the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany.

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