The iPhone touch interface is innovative, there is no doubt about that—but it does have some drawbacks. For example, multi-touch is ill suited to fat fingers and the process of navigating obstructs the screen. Wigdor at MERL, and Patrick Baudisch at Microsoft Research are hoping to change all that with a new touch sensitive gadget called LucidTouch that allows users to navigate via sensors on the back of the device instead of the front. This will allow for a firmer grip on the device, better performance, and a clear view of the screen according to researchers.

When in use, the users hands appear like shadows though the screen, giving the impression that the device is transparent. The active point of each finger is indicated with a small green dot which should effectively address the problems that portly nerds face each and every day. It sounds great, but LucidTouch won't really be ready for prime-time unless it can be slimmed down enough to be practical. Currently, the rear touch interface is made possible by a bulky "boom camera" that records finger movements. Obviously that is totally unacceptable to the discerning geek, but researchers believe that solutions are on the horizon, including using a souped-up touch iPhone-esque touch panel or LEDs. [New Scientist]