Can you imagine a phone that would actively react to your environment and change subtly and realistically to every little change in light and surrounding conditions?
This is exactly what we are seeing here: a truly innovative interface that changes dynamically with the environment. The name of the UI is "Project Erasmus" and it is developed by Bob Burrough
, former top-level Apple engineer who was involved in some of the company's biggest breakthroughs.
I've been developing an environmentally-lit user interface. It uses the lighting of your environment to light, shade, and reflect on the user interface, which provides an unprecedented level of immersion.
The effect is actually somewhat similar to the parallax effect that is available in many phones and that gives a three-dimensional sense of depth to the experience, only here this is achieved with light and reflection, and you have much more depth to it. In fact, the user interface elements here appear like physical objects that reside just beneath the surface of the screen and it feels like you can reach out and physically touch them. Impressive stuff.
And yes, the look of the interface on the demo does look rather dated (with that skeuomorphic style), but we imagine the same principle could easily be applied to more modern visual styles as well. Also, this dynamic rendering will surely be taxing on the battery, but Burrough actually claims that the effect can be achieved very efficiently.
The way this all works is via a fish-eye lens on the front that captures a wide-angle shot of the environment. The software then projects this as an environment map into the specific scene and this is used to construct the realistic lighting and reflections.
Of course, this is nothing but a patented theoretical project at the moment, but it sure does look impressive. Would you like to have this level of realism on your phone, provided this did not drain the battery too quickly?