Interactive Plastic Touch Screens are Coming

Woman using a touch screen interface

Have you ever looked in a shop window and wondered: How much does that cost? In the not too distant future you may be able to find out simply by brushing your hand across the window. And perhaps even purchase the item online, right from the sidewalk.

That would bring “window shopping” to a whole new level.

Shop windows and all sorts of unlikely “displays” may one day be turned into touch screens by a new display technology: a transparent, thinner-than-paper, nanowire-embedded plastic film that can be placed on any non-conductive flat or curved surface.

There are myriad potential applications. Video game designers could use this technology to create 360° interactive screens for multiple players. A more basic gaming application, such as virtual air hockey, could appear at bars and night clubs – or even beach-front picnic tables since the innovative technology works in daylight or darkness, indoors or out, in the wettest weather—even if you’re wearing gloves.

This is not simply some future fantasy. A large interactive display installed at the busiest shopping and business area in the centre of Oslo, Norway, allows curious onlookers and adventuresome tourists to access local and historical information via a multi-lingual, web-based interface. And the “share” function lets people contribute information and photographs to the existing database, creating a continuously updating and evolving collection of public information. Pretty cool.

Welcome to the future made possible by plastics. Feel free to touch.