Disney Research's Touché shows off the future of iPhone-like multitouch gestures... everywhere

The iPhone made capacitive multitouch, gesture-based technology mainstream. These days, we never think twice about tapping, swiping, pinching, twisting, or otherwise manipulating the digital content on our devices. But only on our digital devices. Imagine a future where capacitive multitouch wasn't limited to screens but could be implemented on all sorts of everyday objects, from doorknobs to tables to liquids, to the human body itself. Well, Disney Research isn't just imagining it, they're engineering it today with something they call Touché. Here's how they describe it:

Touché proposes a novel Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique that can not only detect a touch event, but also recognize complex configurations of the human hands and body. Such contextual information significantly enhances touch interaction in a broad range of applications, from conventional touchscreens to unique contexts and materials. For example, in our explorations we add touch and gesture sensitivity to the human body and liquids. We demonstrate the rich capabilities of Touché with five example setups from different application domains and conduct experimental studies that show gesture classification accuracies of 99% are achievable with our technology.

While I'm not sure turning a kid's cereal bowl into a game show is the best approach, I can easily imagine controlling bathtub or hot tub by hand gestures. Likewise, a home security system that not only required a code, but that it also be held in a certain way to open. A coffee machine that could be started with the swipe of a table. And like they show in the video, a phone that never has to leave our pockets because we can tap right on our own hands or arms (and talk via Siri).

Apple has patents on bezel and surface gestures, so it's obviously something they've been thinking about as well. Using non-screen gestures as modifiers for screen gestures could unlock a lot of potential functionality. It could also giv

It will be interesting to see not only when, but where capacitive multitouch gestures turn up next. Entertainment is typically the industry that can afford to mass produce technology first (just look at the Xbox Kinect). Microsoft has long said the future will have screens everywhere. Capacitive multitouch gestures on common objects means the future may also not need screens almost anywhere as well.

Where would you next like to see technology like Disney's Touché imagineered into your life?