As Chris Harrison, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, puts it, “For the first time, we’ve been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touchscreen on almost anything.”
This system, which the CMU researchers call “Electrick,” uses a series of electrodes to conduct electricity though special paint to sense human interactions.
When a human touches this paint, his or her finger shunts a tiny amount of this current to the ground, affecting the current flow. This change in current can then be detected, and the finger position can be sensed to within a centimeter via a technique called electric field tomography.
Though currently not accurate enough for all applications, this material can be used on large walls and even irregular surfaces, such as 3D-printed objects, Jell-O molds, the body of guitars, steering wheels, and more.
It’s an exciting technology, demonstrated especially well in the video above! Want to delve deeper into the project? You can download the team’s entire paper here.
Turn Any Surface Into a Touchpad With a Can of Spray Paint was originally published in Hackster’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.