Touch sensing is most common on small, flat surfaces such as smartphone or tablet screens. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, however, turn surfaces of a wide variety of shapes and sizes into touchpads using tools as simple as a can of spray paint.
Walls, furniture, steering wheels, toys and even Jell-O can be turned into touch sensors with the technology, dubbed Electrick.
The “trick” is to apply electrically conductive coatings or materials to objects or surfaces or to craft objects using conductive materials. By attaching a series of electrodes to the conductive materials, researchers showed they could use a well-known technique called electric field tomography to sense the position of a finger touch.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touch screen on almost anything,” said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and head of the Future Interfaces Group. The group will present Electrick at CHI 2017, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, this week in Denver, Colo.
Until now, large touch surfaces have been expensive and irregularly shaped or flexible touch surfaces have been largely available only in research labs. Some methods have relied on computer vision, which can be disrupted if a camera’s view of a surface is blocked. The presence of cameras also raises privacy concerns.
With Electrick, conductive touch surfaces can be created by applying conductive paints, bulk plastics or carbon-loaded films, such as Desco’s Velostat, among other materials.
Yang Zhang, a Ph.D. student in HCII, said Electrick is both accessible to the hobbyists and compatible with common manufacturing methods, such as spray coating, vacuum forming and casting/molding, as well as 3-D printing.
Like many touchscreens, Electrick relies on the shunting effect — when a finger touches the touchpad, it shunts a bit of electric current to ground. By attaching multiple electrodes to the periphery of an object or conductive coating, Zhang and his colleagues showed they could localize where and when such shunting occurs. They did this by using electric field tomography — sequentially running small amounts of current through the electrodes in pairs and noting any voltage differences.
The tradeoff, in comparison to other touch input devices, is accuracy. Even so, Electrick can detect the location of a finger touch to an accuracy of one centimeter, which is sufficient for using the touch surface as a button, slider or other control, Zhang said.
Zhang, Harrison and Gierad Laput, another HCII Ph.D. student, used Electrick to add touch sensing to surfaces as large as a 4-by-8-foot sheet of drywall, as well as objects as varied as a steering wheel, the surface of a guitar and a Jell-O mold of a brain. Even Play-Doh can be made interactive with Electrick.
The technology was used to make an interactive smartphone case — opening applications such as a camera based on how the user holds the phone – and a game controller that can change the position and combinations of buttons and sliders based on the game being played or the player’s preferences.
Zhang said the Electrick surfaces proved durable. Adding a protective coating atop the conductive paints and sheeting also is possible.
Learn more: CMU CREATING TOUCHPADS WITH CAN OF SPRAY PAINT
The Latest on: Touch sensing
- OnePlus confirms the 6T will feature an in-display fingerprint sensor on October 5, 2018 at 5:06 pm
OnePlus today confirmed that its upcoming flagship, the OnePlus 6T, will come with an in-display fingerprint sensor. In an email to CNET, the company referred to the feature as Screen Unlock: Screen U... […]
- Horrifying finger attachment lets your phone touch you back on October 5, 2018 at 10:43 am
Called MobiLimb, it's made up of five servo motors, an Arduino microcontroller and a sensor, and it can do a number of unsettling ... autonomous finger would likely make you never want to touch your p... […]
- Apple might enhance Apple Pencil, touchscreens with ultrasonic technology on October 4, 2018 at 10:13 am
Apple is looking into ways to use ultrasonic-based technology to perform touch sensing, including creating new layers for touch screens and potential changes to the Apple Pencil to include ... […]
- Samsung Announces New Gear VR with Touch Sensing Controller Included on October 3, 2018 at 5:32 am
The Daily Roundup is our comprehensive coverage of the VR industry wrapped up into one daily email, delivered directly to your inbox. The Daily Roundup is our comprehensive coverage of the VR industry ... […]
- Godrej launches Advantis locks with 360-degree fingerprint sensor on September 27, 2018 at 9:00 am
Now open the door with a single touch as Advantis comes with a 360-degree fingerprint sensor along with a touchscreen. This system provides the highest level of security as everyone’s fingerprint is u... […]
via Google News and Bing News