Mac’s petit inventions: Physically Digital

Mac’s Petit Inventions

Mac Funamizu shares with us his design ideas. He looks at everyday things and envisions their future.

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We all know how great a touch screen is… But have you ever thought that it’s a nightmare for the blind? You never know what you’re touching because everything is flat. All the information and status is on the screen, so a user has to take the device up from a pocket, touch the necessary buttons and see with his eyes. In the future information is told in 3D.

So what would this look like? Let’s take a mobile phone as an example: The front face and the sides of it transforms the shapes according to what information or status is expressed. It makes concavity and convexity on the surface. For example, the face can be customized with contoured graphics. It could be dressed up with a kimono-like graphic or it could have a concave clock so that a blind user can know the time.

The status is shown on its sides

A convexity means a “+” notice, for example there is an unread email message or an unanswered phone call. For a negative status, for example, the battery running out soon or having a bad reception, a concavity appears at a certain location. With this function, you can know without even touching or looking at the phone if your current location has a good reception to talk on the phone, if the battery has to be charged and if you have unread emails or unanswered calls. You wouldn’t have to travel around a place to find a good spot to talk on the phone, taking a look at the small icon on the screen many times.

When the phone makes a continuous movement, it means you have an imminent status to take action for. For instance, when its surface is moving like a wave, you’re getting a phone call. Of course the movement can be customized freely…

With its flexible surface, the information on the screen could be dramatically expressed. Even an email message could be on a protruded paper. Your file management could be done in 3D. Open a folder to take out movies and photos in it just like you do in the physical world.

The biggest merit with this feature could be a 3D map. you can get a much greater feeling of locations with “heights” because in most cases, a landmark is something very high, which can be difficult to be expressed in 2D. Can you imagine how easy it would become to search where you are and which way to go with this function?

When you want to make your email message stand out, you can put an embossed present box on the screen. A calculator will be much easier to use if you can feel the keys. An RSS feed could be read on a book-like shaped surface. The curl on the bottom right corner means you have a next page to read, A flipping gesture takes you to the next page. A physical keyboard of course makes your texting faster!

For advanced functions, there are limitless ideas to be realized that could never have been done with a conventional flat screen. For example, you can leave a kiss mark and handwritten message to
send your love to someone. And text information could be rendered in braille for the blind.

Mac Funamizu

Mac is an in-house web/graphic designer working in Tokyo, Japan. In his free time he invents new products and interactions.

6 comments on this article

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  2. preeti saluja on

    I loved the concept! Infact we were just discussing the same issue ; of blind people using a touch screen phone…:)

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