Microsoft’s research division has unveiled a prototype for a flexible smart surface that connects to mobile devices and acts as a transparent digital piece of paper.

Named FlexSense, the new input surface technology is based on printed piezoelectric sensors that can detect deformation of the plastic sheet and translate it to software without the need for cameras or any kind of external tracking.

The Microsoft team envisions FlexSense connecting to existing apps to perform a number of 2.5D interactive tasks.  

For example, in a demonstration video released by Microsoft (below), the FlexSense sits on top of a tablet and enables the user working on a digital architectural rendering to physically peel back the image they are editing to reveal the original picture underneath.

The technology could also be used in an application like Photoshop to manipulate filters and layers.

While the possibilities for a flexible transparent display seem endless, for the time being, the FlexSense remains a Microsoft research project and there is no indication of when or if it will be manufactured as a product.

Video: Microsoft Research

Courtesy Damn Geeky and Microsoft Research