Our lives are busy and full of distractions. Modern computing, with its constant notifications and enticing red bubbles next to apps, seems designed to keep us enthralled. MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media group wants to change that by crafting "calm interfaces."
The Tangible Media group demonstrated a way to precisely transport droplets of liquid across a surface back in January, which it called "programmable droplets." The system is essentially just a printed circuit board, coated with a low-friction material, with a grid of copper wiring on top. By programmatically controlling the electric field of the grid, the team is able to change the shape of polarizable liquid droplets and move them around the surface. The precise control is such that droplets can be both merged and split.
Moving on from the underlying technology, the team is now focused on showing how we might leverage the system to create, play and communicate through natural materials.