Touchscreen Tags

Researchers use electric field tomography to turn anything into a touchpad

Student inventors at Carnegie-Mellon are showing the world a more universal version of the touchscreen. With the use of direct current and electric field tomography, researchers at the Pittsburgh university reported last month the application of electrode-laced spray paint on everything from walls to guitars to models of the human brain.

The spray paint uses an array of electrodes to detect the position where human touch occurred, just like a modern touchscreen. The electrodes must be attached to an object coated with any slightly conductive material. Although the students say their compound produces a more delayed reaction than, say, your smart phone, they believe the material has immense potential for future applications.

They see it being most useful in education.

With further development being fostered at an educational level, it could be used commercially, too, say Ph-D students at the school’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

The research has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. Its specific technique has been labeled Electrick by its inventors. “The goal of this technology is to enable touch sensing on everything,” Yang Zhang, who worked on the project, told Live “Touch has been very successful. It’s a very intuitive way to interact with computer resources. So, we were wondering whether we could enable these touch-sensing capabilities in many more objects other than just phones and tablets.”

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