By Evan Ackerman
Leave it to the MIT Media Lab to come up with a concept as innovative as this. The Bar of Soap is a prototype gadget that figures out what it’s supposed to be doing based on the way you’re holding it. So, if you pick it up and hold it like a camera, it’ll operate like a camera. Hold it like a cellphone, and it becomes a cellphone. TV remote, MP3 player, whatever… As long as you hold it in a unique manner (and research suggests that people have clearly distinguishable ways of holding different gadgets), it can theoretically be anything you want. The unit itself is a plastic block, with a touchscreen, an accelerometer, 72 touch sensors, and internal bluetooth. At the moment, it’s not offering much in the way of functionality, since it’s designed to test the grasp classification concept (currently, it’s about 95% accurate at knowing what you want). This is one of those things, though, that’s an easy trickle-down technology for things like the iPhone, which already is a touch sensitive gadget with an accelerometer and multiple modes of functionality.