FlexSense is Microsoft’s transparent interactive sheet for tablets

When Microsoft encourages its engineers to think outside the box, the results aren’t always dead-ends like the Kin. In fact, the company’s research division is now showing off an amazing thin transparent film called FlexSense that can sense deformations and allow us to interact with tablets and eReaders in fascinating new ways.

The merry band of scientists over at Microsoft Research — who apparently get paid to have fun and speak with fixed tones over videos — have put together something called FlexSense, a flat piece of bendable material loaded with sensors. You torque it, and it accepts the “deformation” input. That means it can tell how you are bending it and translates that information for the application you’re using. On paper, ahem, that might sound dull, but FlexSense can be paired with tablets to provide users with what Microsoft calls 2.5D input. Imagine doodling a picture with multiple layers, and lifting up the corner of your FlexSense to reveal the layer below that you’re working on. Or turning pages of a digital book by bending a part of your FlexSense. Any place you can imagine flexing or bending material, FlexSense could fit.

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