The question is, why? Well, it's linked to the electronics manufacturer's efforts in virtual reality and telepresence: communicating touch digitally so that someone not actually present can get a similar (if not the same) experience. When the faux cup is filled with digital cold water, your fingers gently chill, with contacts on the sides of the cup delivering the temperature change. The reverse is true when the computer pours your faux tea. It was just hot enough to startle me. (On a personal note, the lack of virtual
biscuits cookies was frustrating.)
The sensors also push back depending on the virtual material the cup is meant to be made of. With a plastic cup, it "squished" like it was meant to. Again: It's weird.
Sure, no businesses are looking to deliver the experience of a digitally replicated cup of tea; it's a demonstration of the kind of analogue sensations the company can deliver through technology. ALPS also had a haptic pad that was able to replicate tile and (for some reason) denim. Other surfaces, naturally, can also be programmed too. The technology delivers a similar tactile sensation with motors as your finger runs across it. The cup delivers a more uncanny experience -- it'll be exciting to see where the company takes it next.