Spray Paint Can Turn Any Surface Into A Touchpad

Posted: May 9 2017, 10:16am CDT | by , Updated: May 9 2017, 11:13am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Spray Paint Can Turn Surface into a Touchpad
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute have developed a low-cost method of turning a wide variety of surfaces into touchpads, such as this steering wheel. Credit: Future Interfaces Group
  • The researchers are presenting Electrick at a conference in Denver this week.

Scientists seem to have made a touchpad via a can of spray paint.

Touch sensing is a feature of small, flat surfaces. These include such devices as smartphone and tablet display screens. Researchers have converted surfaces of various dimensions into touchpads via simple objects such as cans of spray paint.

Everything from walls, furniture items, car steerings and kids’ toys to fruit jelly can be turned into touch sensors. This is possible via a technology called Electrick. Electrically conductive layers of material are applied to objects. Or objects can be crafted from this material.

By applying electrodes to these objects, electric field tomography could sense the area where fingers touch the device. Thus all it takes is a can of spray paint to place a touch screen on just about anything.

Until recently, large touch surfaces have been costly and unwieldy to boot. Besides they have only been available for research work.

Some of these have depended on computer vision which can easily go awry whenever there is any hindrance in the way. Also the presence of cameras takes the hallmark of a surveillance society too far.

Through Electrick though, conductive touch surfaces can be applied using paints, polymers and carbon films. And the possibilities are myriad. Any surface holds the potential to become a touch screen.

This is a very exciting prospect. The low-cost touch-sensing technology can do a number of things. The material can even be coated onto the body of a guitar. This is definitely a case of graffiti having gone electric. Researchers used the technology to create an interactive smartphone case.

Lots of experiments with 2D touch technology have also taken place and the future is such that the sky is the limit for this technology. Electrick is the ideal thing for those who have a hobby involving technical products too.

The researchers will present Electrick at a conference in Denver this week.

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