Touch is the new mouse of this era. Touchscreen phones, LCDs and appliances is the new rage and demand, as anything and everything today is based on touch.
But, what if we want to convert a surface, say a table top into touchscreen?
It may sound like a fiction story, but scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed technology which can make it possible now. Using spray paint, any surface can be made into touchscreen now.
Spray And Touch – The New Era Of Touchscreen
Scientists have developed a technology called Electrick, using which spray paint can be used to make any surface as touch sensitive. Be it walls, tables, books or even a water bottle.
The secret lies in the spray paint, which consists of electrically conductive carbon-based material. When applied to a surface, like wall, these carbon based material allows the object to conduct electricity, hence, empowers it to become a touchscreen.
Once the spray has been applied, the object needs to be connected with electrodes, so that controlled voltage can be passed on at various points, which then becomes touch sensitive.
Chris Harrison, assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and head of the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University said, “For the first time, we’ve been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touch screen on almost anything,”
Here is a demo video of using such touch sensing using electric field tomography:
How Does It Work?
When you apply this special spray paint on a surface like table, then certain sections of that table will become touch sensitive, which can be used to control apps on your computer. Similarly, if the spray paint is applied on the belly of a toy soldier, then at area will become touch sensitive, and when touched, it can be connected with a speaker to make a funny sound.
The process is called shunting.
Electric current is shunted to the area, where fingers apply a certain pressure.The connected electrodes localize where this shunting is taking place, thereby passing the control to the connected device. This process is called tomography.
The scientists are now making this technology compatible with manufacturing process, so that 3D printing can be done using this method: All you need to do is spray this paint, and create objects using 3D printing, which would be based on the connected appliances.
The challenges include using this on objects where water is present, or where strong electro-magnetic waves can affect the accuracy of the touch based commands.
Nonetheless, this is indeed a cool beginning to transform touch based technology, and making it even more practical.
Here is the official whitepaper on this technology, created by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University.
Image Source: www.gizmodo.com.au