Short Bytes: A new tech called Electrick can turn almost any surface into a touch sensor and sense human finger. Created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, it involves coating a surface with an electrically conductive material (eg: conductive spray paint) and attaching electrodes along the periphery of the surface.Spray paint cans are more useful than you might think. Now, you can use them to turn a surface of almost any shape into a touch sensor. This has been possible because of the new tech called Electrick, created by the researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University.
A method known as electric field tomography is used to accomplish the task of making a low-cost touch-enabled surface out of wood, plastic, drywall, and even Jell-O. A spray paint can be filled with some conductive material is used to coat a surface and electrodes are attached to it.
The Electrick system is then capable of sensing human finger position on the surface with an accuracy of 1 cm. It’s enough to create touch surface that could act as a button or a slider, according to the creator Yang Zhang who is a Ph.D. student at CMU.
Creating a touch-enabled surface isn’t only confined to conductive paints, other materials including carbon-loaded films such as Velostat can also be used. Also, methods such as 3-D printing and casting/molding can be used to create touch sensors.
A video explains the working mechanism of Electrick:
Electrick can have various applications, such as creating interactive walls or smartphone cases that could open an app based on how the user holds the phone or a gamepad that can change button positions and controls for specific users.
Zhang said that the conductive surface is durable enough and protective coating can be added to make it more long-lasting.