Our editors have compiled a list of the “Top 10 Strangest (or Coolest) Interactive Technologies” for your enjoyment. Which ones are your favorites?

10. LED Touch Sensor

JustDIY proves that LEDs can be used for more than lighting, but also as an input device.

This is a collection of the work I’ve done with using the bi-directional properties of LEDs. I have also included links to information I’ve found on the subject and the project by an NYU research that inspired me


9. Thermopainter

Osaka University researcher Daisuke Iwai has developed a new technology which allows people to paint using thermal vision technology.

ThermoPainter can detect temperature change regions on a sensing surface as touch regions when objects hotter or colder than the surface touch it. In the system, users can use a physical paintbrush with hot water and an airbrush with cold water in spite of paint as they use in the real world, and even use their own fingers, hands, and breaths directly because of their own body heat.


8. Petecube

Petecube (Personal Electronic Touch Experience) is a nifty gadget that’s equipped with a variety of sensors/actuators, used in real-time to generate sound, image and haptic feedback.

Current audio/visual equipment has minimal tactile feedback while acoustic instruments however have a much richer tactile palette


7. Warcraft III Multi-Touch Panel

Developed by Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL), this interactive multi-input panel allows users to control such games as Warcraft III with “an array of antennas embedded in the touch surface”. Basically, a receiver connected to each user’s chair, gets signals from antennas near the touch point.

This unique touch technology supports multiple touches by a single user (e.g., two handed touch gestures) and distinguishes between simultaneous inputs from multiple users


6. Audiopad

MIT graduates James Patten and Ben Recht designed the Audiopad, an interactive tabletop system which tracks the position of objects and converts their motion into music.

Audiopad has a matrix of antenna elements which track the positions of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop surface. Software translates the position information into music and graphical feedback on the tabletop. Each object represents either a musical track or a microphone.


5. DDR-a-Mole

Inspired by the original Whack-a-Mole, DDR-a-Mole makes use of a MPC823 microcontroller to put a creative twist on the game.

The difference with our version is that the player would not be using a mallet, but rather a Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) pad. The pad, which is a playstation controller, has eight steppable buttons, and the game is played by pressing on a button to “whack” a corresponding mole when it pops up.


4. Interactive Khronos Projector

It’s the coolest projector ever made. Alvaro Cassinelli’s Khronos projector allows users to interact with pre-recorded video by warping or distorting the image in real time.

A classic video-tape allows a simple control of the reproducing process (stop, backward, forward, and elementary control on the reproduction speed). Modern digital players add little more than the possibility to perform random temporal jumps between image frames.


3. Etch-A-Sound

Inspired by the original Etch-A-Sketch toy, this creation builds upon that device by allowing users to draw with their own voice.

First the user creates a 2 dimensional image in real time with his or her voice, and after a few moments the computer converts this into a 3 dimensional drawing. Then when you wear anaglyph glasses (3d red and cyan glasses) users can see in real space the drawing that you have created


2. I/O Brush

At first glance, it looks like your standard brush, but upon closer inspection you’ll find integrated LEDs, touch sensors, and a camera. The I/O Brush basically “lifts up and captures photons”, allowing artists to draw with “special ink” picked up from their immediate environment.

I/O Brush looks like a regular physical paintbrush but has a small video camera with lights and touch sensors embedded inside. Outside of the drawing canvas, the brush can pick up color, texture, and movement of a brushed surface.


1. Interactive xBlocks

Combining interactive art and gaming, xBlocks delivers a unique experience to say the least. It’s currently on display at Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan, Italy.

Using standard game controllers, two opposing players must help their characters navigate in and around a three dimensional maze. The real challenge comes, not from traditional game mechanics but rather from moving with your character as he sprints around corners and jumps between the installation’s two play surfaces


Honorable Mention – TileToy LED Puzzle Game

TileToy is “a modular, electronic game prototype for tangible LED game tiles” — consisting of four 2-inch squares, each with an LED matrix system.

Each tile is controlled individually and can be used to transmit information on its own or in groups of several tiles. The assembled tiles transmit wirelessly their individual position in relation to each other and based on that changing information, a central computer, or a dedicated tile runs the different applications.

Honorable Mention – Light Brix

Unlike its predecessor, Light Brix uses a “modular light system for architecture, which reacts to the electromagnetic fields generated by touch” — producing some very interesting effects as seen above. It consists of a custom designed electronic circuit, plastic shell, and an aluminium structure. [Source]