Disney and the haptic-touchscreen-everywhere future

If you missed the news today, Disney — purveyor of Marvel comic resurrections and Martian remixes — has something big up its sleeve: a new technology that could make iPhones and iPads obsolete. It’s called “swept frequency capacitive sensing” and basically turns any material into a responsive touchscreen.

Any material into a touchscreen. Your jeans. Your T-shirt. Your car dashboard. Your couch. The water running from your kitchen faucet.

This is (a) mind-blowing and (b) predictable, if you consider it. The technology, termed “Touche” (Disney, please get a better branding firm), was created by Disney Research in Pittsburgh, part of the entertainment giant’s R&D group. Reporter Rebecca Lipman at Kapitall suggests the tech could allow any surface to pick up the swoops and pinches you now squish on your smartphone, creating limitless applications. You sit on your sofa, the TV turns on. You tap left-right on your steering wheel, and your car’s phone calls home. You kiss another woman, and your wife gets a warning call from your ChapStick. Don’t even get me started on the bathroom and bedroom potential.

Ken Farsalas, an equity guru at Oberweis Small-Cap Opportunities Fund (who must be drooling over Disney’s stock, oh yes), suggests “The next biggest thing is sure to be ubiquitous connectivity.” Talk about radical innovation. If anything can be a responsive touchscreen gadget, then what happens to gadgets? Instead of buying the iPhone 6, you might just tap your belt to check the weather.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Image: Meredith Farmer

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