We have seen a large rise of novel and user-friendly interfaces that move beyond the paradigm of mouse and keyboard for input. Multi-touch screens are now the de-facto standard in mobile devices such as phones and tablets, depth cameras are increasingly being used to capture gestural input in the living room and beyond. This rise in adoption of such ‘natural’ user interfaces shows there is a great deal of user demand for simpler ways of navigating information and content, where the computer interface is not a barrier, but enables them to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily.
Arguably whilst the input between user and computer has become greatly enriched due to innovations in user sensing technologies such as touch and depth sensors, there has been less significant work that has explored novel output or display mechanisms coupled with this novel input. The project “Flexible Large Area Sensors for Highly Enhanced Displays” (FLASHED) will address this challenge of building a novel user interface device that couples novel input with output.
In FLASHED, we will discover a new technology in the field of flexible displays. A major problem of flexible displays is still the lack of interactivity, because none of the market-ready touch solutions are flexible (bendable). Therefore, one major goal of FLASHED is the development of novel, flexible touchscreen solutions, covering aspects like cost-effectiveness (all-printed), sustainability (material recycling and end-of-life disposal) and energy-efficiency (self-sustaining sensor arrays). Moreover, the FLASHED project puts strong emphasis on user-friendly interfaces. The FLASHED device itself consists of a flexible display, a touchscreen layer based on a pressure sensing touch array (utilizing ferroelectric polymers) and a haptic/acoustic feedback layer based on a relaxor ferrolectric material.
The R&D work starts with research into developing new ink-materials for the touchscreen as well as the feedback actuator layer and with the development of the layers, of the microcontroller and of the software. Based on the input layer, we will integrate it with the output (feedback) layer and the flexible display and implement demonstrators. Formative evaluation combined with a two-round development process will ensure that the FLASHED results fit its users’ needs while summative evaluation will validate the overall utility of the approach to promote flexible interactive surfaces.
A presentation explaining the FLASHED project can be found here.