Japanese researchers show prototype with touchscreen-like controls

Aquatop prototype turns your bath into a touch device

Japanese researchers at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo have discovered a method of turning a full bath into an interactive touchscreen.

Demonstrating the prototype technology in a YouTube video (below), the researchers first give a history of Japan’s apparent love of the tub, before showing how a projector combined with a Kinect sensor can be used to project images onto a water-filled bath.

The bath water is mixed with bath salts in order to provide an opaque surface, as well as the added benefit of the ‘feeling of a hot bath much like in a hot spring’, on which the image is displayed. The Kinect is then used to detect when fingers touch the water, from either below or above, making the water function much like a conventional touchscreen, including pinch-to-zoom and drag-and-drop gestures.

The researchers then go on to show games being played on the bath, using two palms to throw brightly-lit magic balls at enemy jellyfish. As if the ability to use your bath to fight off neon jellyfish with magic energy balls wasn’t enough, they also add a series of underwater speakers to provide haptic feedback, the speakers throwing up different level splashes dependant on the action happening in the game.

While the technology is currently only in a prototype stage, the minimum requirement of two easy-to-obtain devices may make the bathtub tech available sooner rather than later. What is clear, however, is that the future looks dark for the classic rubber duck.

Watch the nine-minute video of the Aquatop display prototype here:

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