Researchers from MIT are developing a technology that transforms water droplets into programmable, interactive tools.
The project is being led by researcher Udayan Umapathi and professor Hiroshi Ishii from the university’s Tangible Media Group.
They hope the new technology will demonstrate the potential for water as an interactive medium for creativity, art, entertainment and communication, to better connect people to their physical environment.
“If you think about it, as we walk in rain, wash our hands or even work in laboratories, we are constantly interacting with water,” said Umapathi.
“So we started asking the question, if this beautiful and inspiring material which is ever-present could give us a ‘calm’ computer interface. To show that this is possible, we have created the Programmable Droplets system for interaction.”
The system utilises the “electrowetting” technique, which involves applying a voltage to a droplet of water to make it change shape.
According to Umapathi, this technique can be traced back to experiments from the 19th century. “We are repurposing this classical physical mechanism of controlling water’s behaviour,” he said.
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