AquaTop makes bath time fun … and computer friendly

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Here at TED, we are big fans of innovative interfaces — from back in 2006, when Jeff Han demoed the multi-touch screen on the TED stage, to 2010 when Tan Le debuted an interface manipulated by brainwaves, to most recently when Jinha Lee showed us how to reach inside our computer screen.

Which is why we were intrigued by Spectrum IEEE highlighting AquaTop, an interface that turns your bathtub into a display for a computer, iPad or Kinect. Engineers at the University of Tokyo Electro Communication Laboratory used the depth camera of a Microsoft Kinect, a ceiling-mounted projector and a bathtub hazy with bath salts to make an interface you can wade around in. AquaTop’s desktop features include a media player you can scoop up or expand in the water, and the ability to delete a file by pulling it down below the surface. Its gaming interface integrates waterproof speakers and LED lights to provide haptic feedback and incredible light effects to the sports and shooting games engineers have already programmed for it.

While the current prototype uses a tank of water, the project’s goal is to create all kinds of water-interface experiences, from bathtubs for the home to swimming pools in waterparks.