Scientists have invented this beautiful, transparent and touch-sensitive wall

Window shopping is about to get a lot more real with the news that scientists have invented a transparent wall that responds to the touch.

A team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) led by Woohun Lee, a professor of Industrial Design, developed what they call the TransWall. It’s a two-sided touch-sensitive display made from plexiglass sheets with holographic film inside. It’s surrounded by infra-red touch sensor frames on each side, and encased in a frame that contains two overhead projectors, which project visuals onto either side of the screen. Each side also has an in-built microphone and a surface transducer, which amplifies sound, meaning you can walk talk through walls.

The TransWall turns a surface into a giant touchscreen, allowing people to create collaborative artworks by ‘drawing’ with their fingers on the wall. It also lets you virtually touch someone else: if two users touch the same spot at the same time, it will give them sound and tactile feedback that makes it seem as if they’re touching one another. You can see a video of it in action on Vimeo.

Professor Lee said that the wall could be installed in shopping malls, museums, or theme parks, but it’s not just a way to finally connect with another human being pass five minutes. It has more useful potential applications in labs or hospitals, particularly in cases where patients would otherwise be isolated due to the risk of infection.

Image credit: KAIST

Diane Shipley