LAS VEGAS -- Just when you thought Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds couldn't get any cooler: Now you can play them on a touchscreen made of misting water.
A Russian company called Displair has brought its bizarre, wholly innovative vaporizing projector machine to this year's Consumer Electronics Show, and the gizmo is unlike anything else at the enormous tech convention: Basically, you can connect a touchscreen device to a projector, which puts out a touchable image of your device's screen onto a constantly misting wall of vaporized water. You can then interact with the device by running your finger on that wall of mist. It's a strange and totally innovative way to interact with a typical tablet or computer.
Below, you can see how it works as I play a quick game of Fruit Ninja on the Displair's mist-screen:
I'm playing Fruit Ninja above, but hypothetically you can do anything you'd do on a touchscreen device on the Displair. In the video, a camera attached to the tablet powering Fruit Ninja is tracking my finger movements on the misting wall -- in other words, anything your fingers can do on a tablet, your fingers can do on the Displair. Games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds just happen to be perfect uses for the Displair, since gameplay consists mostly of simple gestures. You could also check your email, surf The Huffington Post or watch a YouTube video on this magical misting wall, should you really want to.
For now, Displair remains something of a curiosity, albeit an incredible one. One unit costs about $10,000 (plus one to two liters of water per hour). The product will be available for purchase in the second or third quarter of this year, but if you need one immediately, a company spokeswoman noted that the Displair is available for rent for about $1000 per day.
Displair is pitching its machine as a unique public presentation device or as an eye-catching display advertising unit -- a way to attract pedestrians or passersby into a store or a booth (kind of like a super high-tech wacky waving inflatable tube man. A Displair spokeswoman said that the machine will become available for consumers in about five years. For now, the company is focused on businesses.
That's a shame, because playing Angry Birds on a wall of soft mist is really a unique pleasure that no other business, large or small, can offer you. It's a curiosity, yes, but a delightful one.