electronics research

Kinetic Surface: mixed-reality games platform

A display screen able to locate and move objects on its surface - at high speed.

In the Kinetic Surface video below, the moving LEDs represent two competing sets of algorithms or 'players' that are trying to roll the ball into the opposing player's goal. High power acceleration of the ball and fast electronic tracking of its movement enables very fast play.

This system is based on recent innovations in electromagnetic actuator technology (patents pending) that can smoothly move, track and control a ball (or other objects) at high speed. The technology is quite easy to manufacture, and it could potentially be used in numerous products: human-computer interface applications, toys, computer games platforms, and software configurable amusement systems.

The current Kinetic Surface system could be improved - by integrating it into an OLED display screen and generating high definition graphics for the pitches and entire teams of players; or by improving the performance of the electromagnetic actuator sub-system; or by applying machine learning techniques to improve the performance of the system and the players (whether the players are computer-based or human).

Kinetic Surface product launches on Kickstarter

Because this Kinetic Surface system is an unusual new category of technology, it is difficult to know whether there is actually any demand or market for it; that is why I am releasing details of it now. In order to test the market I have created a Kickstarter campaign. The Kinetic Surface product launch is currently scheduled to take place in approximately January 2020, and the Kickstarter campaign is currently in the Preview stage - please check it out here:

The evolution of Kinetic Surfaces

The Kinetic Surfaces research project has been sporadically active since 2001. The initial aim was to create computer display screens that were more tangible and tactile, and to make digital systems a little more real and 'analogue'. Below is a video showing some of the many different experimental prototypes that I have built over the past two decades. Many of these prototypes were inspired by games such as table football/foosball/fussball, Crossfire and Breakout.

There are various other applications of these Kinetic Surface technologies, and I think that kinetic surfaces might eventually become a useful field of study within academia and technology R&D. If you are interested in working on these various opportunities, or if you would like to know more about product development plans, contribute to the project, or find out about the underlying technologies, please get in contact - details below.


I have worked in electronics and human-computer interaction research for more than two decades - independently inventing and building various tactile user interfaces, smart objects, synthesisers, actuators, and knowledge management systems.

During the development of the Kinetic Surfaces technologies it was necessary to develop techniques for electronically tracking the positions of the objects moving across the surfaces. I experimented with arrangements of various sensing devices - optical, rf, resistive, capacitive, magnetic, ultrasonic etc. This interest in tracking multiple objects ultimately led me towards developing several multitouch/object touchscreen technologies. When, a few years later in 2007, Apple released the iPhone with a multitouch touchscreen, my own prior touchscreen work became the subject of media interest. In 2012 I acted as an expert witness in the iPhone-related patent dispute between Apple and Samsung. Certain aspects around this process were reported in The Register, the Daily Mail, and the Financial Times.

Short films documenting some of my many other research and development projects are available at

I previously worked in R&D for Thorn EMI Electronics Ltd, and in academic research at the University of Cambridge, UCL, and London Business School - studying innovation, knowledge mapping, human-computer interaction, and AI.

I occasionally post on Twitter @andrewfentem.


Touch cube points to future toys - BBC News

Showcase of UK Digital Creativity - UK Government Digital Catapult

"...developing multi-touch human interfaces, kinetic surfaces and motion sensing technologies before almost anyone else in the world....stunning work." - Gizmodo

recent writing

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea - The Register

Multitouch touchscreen 1 Alexander McQueen couture show, AW 2004, Paris Smartwatch Fentix Cube Modular computers Icosohedral device Flick Pixels Programmable Neon

Some of my other tactile interface and display innovations: Multi-touch touchscreens & tangible control surfaces - London, 2001-2004 / Alexander McQueen couture show - Paris, 2004 / OLED WPAN Smartwatch - demo'd at NagNagNag, London, 2005 / Fentix Cube - a cubic touchscreen games platform, 2007 / Modular multi-touch computer devices, 2009 / Icosohedral multi-touch device, 2009 / Mechatronic wallpaper pixels - UK Digital Creativity Showcase, 2015 / Internet of Things (IoT) display, 2016 /


Andrew Fentem

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