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Microsoft Research’s merry band of scientists get paid to have fun and speak with fixed tones over videos — or so it seems – and have put together something called FlexSense, a flat piece of flexible material choc-full of sensors.

You bend it, and it accepts the “deformation” input. That means it can determine how you are bending it and relays that information into binary for the application you’re using.

That might sound boring to you but FlexSense can be coupled with slates to give users what Microsoft calls 2.5D input. Imagine sketching a picture with multiple layers, and lifting up the corner of your FlexSense to reveal the layer below the image or turning pages of a digital book by bending a part of your FlexSense device. Any place you can imagine flexing or bending material, FlexSense could do the job.

Imagine playing Flappy Bird and instead of tapping the screen you can make a flapping motion with your device. Don’t do that at the coffee spot, but it would be a great party trick at parties and bars…. Maybe?

What appeals to me more than all that is the potential for this sort of technology to eventually be built into flexible screens themselves. Obviously, what Microsoft has built is far more research project than manufacturable good, but at the same time, it’s neat technology and a fun look into the future.

I’m guessing that in close to 10 years, our screens will bend and accept every sort of command you can imagine — voice, touch, typing, shaking and even bending. FlexSense is bringing us closer to a reality in which we’re not just limited to tapping and voice commands that are anything but accurate.

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