Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new way to add touch controls to practically any object whether it be flat, curved, or irregular. By using a conductive paint or spray, Electrick (as the system’s called) can identify different measures in electricity while you move your hand across the surface. Simple one-touch inputs are also supported, obviously, but swiping gestures just look a lot cooler.
In the video above, Electrick is being used on a guitar, car steering wheel, and even paper cutouts of some app icons that act like digital shortcuts to a computer program. There’s many possibilities with this technology, so nearly any gesture you may perform on an actual touchscreen, you can perform with Electrick’s system.
We introduce Electrick, a low-cost and versatile sensing technique that enables touch input on a wide variety of objects and surfaces, whether small or large, flat or irregular. This is achieved by using electric field tomography in concert with an electrically conductive material, which can be easily and cheaply added to objects and surfaces through a variety of fabrication methods such as painting, 3D printing, injection molding etc.