The Institute of Surface Technologies and Photonics of JOANNEUM RESEARCH in Austria developed in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria’s Media Interaction Lab and Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK, a transparent sensor surface for tablet computers, called “FlexSense” as part of the FP7-project FLASHED (Flexible Large Area Sensors for Highly Enhanced Displays). This sensor surface enables an intuitive and three-dimensional interaction between humans and computers and consists of a bendable sensor foil connected to the tablet that allows a direct reconstruction of complex deformation without the need for any external detectors or cameras. The foil contains only a sparse number of transparent, piezoelectric sensors that can be printed in a simple and cost-efficient process on the surface of the foil. The proprietary and highly awarded basic technology is called “PyzoFlex®” and has been developed at MATERIALS - the Institute of Surface Technologies and Photonics of JOANNEUM RESEARCH.
With the help of novel algorithms the sensor surface enables to completely and accurately reconstruct the bending of a sheet. Applied as transparent cover of a tablet screen the sensitive user interface “FlexSense” can be used for a multitude of 2.5-dimensional interactions. Bending of the cover can be combined with more common touch. Thus, FlexSense can produce magical lens style effects or layered input effects at high switching speed between interaction modes or scrolling through input levels, and it enables novel interface methods for tablets (e.g., for games) by using the device as high degree-of-freedom input controller.