Communication generally exists through sound or type. But MIT Media Lab developed an insane shapeshifting display that works kind of like Skype for 3-D objects. Go here to see what we mean. [Link]

Gesture interface has one weakness: It’s tedious and disorienting to wave your hands in the air but never actually touch anything. Disney Research invented what’s basically a very advanced air gun. It puffs air rings that allow you to actually feel objects and textures in midair--no special controllers or gloves required. [Link]

Most interfaces are stuck behind glass. SpaceTop is a transparent, 3-D monitor that you can reach your hands into to manipulate virtual objects just as you would real ones. [Link]

Imagine if your TV could burst at the seams and spill its picture all over your living room. That’s what Microsoft Research developed with Illumiroom, which combines a Kinect and a projector to map and paint your space in seamless media. [Link]

Flat-e Cube
Musician Jamie Lidell may take the award for the most incredible stage (and video) of the year. Developed by Flat-e, Lidell performs inside a stunning cube that can respond to the tilt of his mic. [Link]

Cleveland Museum of Art
When most people think of museums, they don’t think about mind-blowing interfaces. But Local Projects’ work at the Cleveland Museum of Art combines video walls, tablets, and gesture recognition to actually engage with the artwork at a deeper level. [Link]

A thematic cousin to the Little Printer, the Choosatron is a machine that prints out an interactive story. It’s an excellent reminder that physical objects can still drive delight in the digital age. [Link]

Berg's Google Desktop
“If Google wasn’t trapped behind glass, what would it do?” That’s the question Google asked Berg to conceptualize. Their answer uses a Pixar-inspired smart lamp to paint ordinary surfaces with responsive light so Google lives on someone’s actual desktop. [Link]

Berg's Video Chat Concepts, For Google
Even though it’s ubiquitous, video chatting can still be quite awkward. Google hired Berg in another project to reimagine the experience, and what followed were a series of fascinating concepts that embodied digital chats in a more analog, natural feeling way. [Link]

Touch Sound
This is just nuts. Touch someone’s ear with your finger, and they can hear sound that’s been piped through your body. [Link]

Frog Wearables
We’ve all heard of the Nike+ Fuelband, so what comes next? Frog imagined wearables for ideas far beyond activity tracking--coming up with masks, techie knitting kits, and even an environmental monitor worn by a tree. [Link]

Right now we tap a lot of touchscreens, but imagine if we walked on them instead. The result is a strange and fascinating world of interactive shadows that will leave you wondering where the real world stops and the virtual world begins. [Link]

Disney’s beautiful animated short Paperman hadn’t yet won its Oscar when we talked to director John Kahrs about how his team merged traditional 2-D animation with 3-D. The experimental technology, called Meander, was successful largely because it allowed Disney animators to draw a frame in 2-D, and have connective 3-D frames rendered automagically. [Link]

Stamp-on Circuits
Today, most interfaces are limited by the hardware itself. Tomorrow, thanks to University of Illinois researcher John Rogers, we could actually wear circuits that stamp on our bodies like temporary tattoos. [Link]

Bullet Journal
As many of us are too stubborn to give up on interfacing with paper just yet, the designer of the Bullet Journal illustrated a better way of taking notes. Who says you can't still innovate in ink? [Link]

Microsoft's Vision Of The Future
We’ve seen what Microsoft has done with the Xbox One. Here’s a vision of what they’d like to do with technologies like Kinect over the next decade. [Link]

Leap Motion...Beatboxing
The Leap Motion could be the mouse of gesture UI, except that nobody really knows what to do with the technology when someone sits at their desk. Beatboxer Ryo Fujimoto had another idea, to hack the Leap Motion to allow incredible, real-time effects for musical performance. [Link]


The 17 Most Amazing User Interfaces Of The Year

Hearing through touch. Feeling phantom objects in the air. These are some of the most amazing interfaces we’ve seen in 2013.

The iPhone is fantastic, but there’s a future waiting for us beyond touchscreens. It’s a place where bits and bricks combine, where the ethereal digital world becomes corporeal, where we can see and feel information manifested in real mass. These are the themes behind some of the most incredible experiments in user interface of the year. Spend 5 minutes reading about them in the gallery above, and get a sneak peek at the next 5 years—or even decades—of interface.

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