Electrick can turn all sorts of objects into touch pads using electrically conductive coatings

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to transform different surfaces into touchpads. Electrick is a versatile sensing technique that enables touch input on various objects, regardless of their shape or size. Electric field tomography is used with an electrically conductive material, which can be easily and cheaply applied with tools such as a can of spray paint. This technique is compatible with manufacturing methods including spray/brush coating, vacuum forming, and casting/molding.

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Electrick can enable new interactive opportunities on static objects and surfaces like walls, furniture, steering wheels, and toys. Electrically conductive coatings or materials are applied to objects or surfaces and a series of electrodes are attached to the conductive materials in order to sense the position of a finger touch. Electrick can detect the location of a finger touch to an accuracy of one centimeter, which would enable the touch surface to be used as a button, slider or other control.

The researchers used Electrick to add touch sensing to surfaces as large as a 4-by-8-foot sheet of drywall. They also tried a car's steering wheel, the surface of a guitar and a Jell-O mold of a brain. An interactive smartphone case was made, letting the user open apps such as the camera based on how they hold their phone, as well as a game controller that changes the position and combination of buttons and sliders based on the game being played or the player's preferences.

This technique offers a wide range of possible uses and outputs, brnging touch input to a diverse set of objects and surfaces that previously had none, along with rapidly fabricated objects including those that are laser cut or 3D printed.

Learn about Electrick in the video below:

Electrick

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to transform different surfaces into touchpads. Electrick is a versatile sensing technique that enables touch input on various objects, regardless of their shape or size. Electric field tomography is used with an electrically conductive material, which can be easily and cheaply applied with tools such as a can of spray paint. This technique is compatible with manufacturing methods including spray/brush coating, vacuum forming, and casting/molding.