Do you remember the iPhone 3Gi that the Onion joked about a few months ago? The “i” stood for “invisible” as the Onion staff were mocking the iPhone which they thought would one day become invisible. Believe it or not but an invisible iPhone might be available one day, according to a research project carried out by a few German researchers.

The project, dubbed Imaginary iPhone, allows you to use your iPhone without even taking it out of your pocket. So how does this work exactly?

iPhone users (or any other device users), usually have a good sense of where keys or icons are on their phones. For example, I can unlock my iPhone and launch my Mail app without even looking at my phone. This is what this whole research is based on.

Users mimic the interaction on the palm of their hand. The interaction is tracked by a wearable depth camera which sends input events to the actual physical device. By mimicking the layout of the physical device, here an iPhone, users can operate the device based on spatial memory built up while using the physical device.

So what do you think? Are you impressed at all? Do you believe this could be the future of smartphones?

[Engadget]