Some very clever people over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed technology that allows smartphones to be used together with computers in ways I thought would remain in the realm of science fiction for many years to come.

Five researchers – Sang-won Leigh, Philipp Schoessler, Felix Heibeck, Pattie Maes and Hiroshi Ishii – contributed to a research project called THAW, which is described as “…a novel interaction system that allows a collocated large display and small handheld devices to seamlessly work together”.

The cleverness was spotted on the fascinating Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr: by using the phone’s rear-facing camera and some smart tracking software, those researchers demonstrated how a smartphone can be used as physical interface with a computer screen.

That lets them do really cool things like dragging and dropping files seamlessly between the phone and computer, and even use the phone as a physical platform in a game.

They made a brilliant video that explains it a lot better than we can:

I don’t know yet what practical applications this tech is going to have, but if it’s one thing I do know it’s that giving people tools like this lets them unleash their creativity in crazy, unexpected ways so I’m looking forward to seeing how big-name game studios and software makers use it in their stuff.

The possibilities seem endless. Maybe King.com can incorporate it in a new game that isn’t Candy Crush Saga that actually makes money.

[Source – Prosthetic Knowledge Tumblr]