Here’s a riddle: You can watch this video and decide you’re floating within a touch device, or you can watch this video and decide that everything is a touch device. Either way, give this video a minute or two to kick in. I think you’ll be amazed. — Michael
Close your eyes and imagine how it would feel to go for a swim inside your iPad’s touchscreen. It could be a little like the surreal, interactive “AquaTop display” experience, created by researchers at the University of Tokyo Electro Communications Laboratory. The prototype model is just a tank of water, but the plan is for the AquaTop to turn your everyday bathtub into an immersive touchscreen, allowing the bather to watch movies, look at photos, and play games.
Our system uses a depth camera to detect input on and over the water surface to allow for interactions such as protruding fingers out from under the water surface and scooping up the water with both hands. This type of interaction is not capable with current impenetrable, rigid body, flat surfaces. For example, by floating one’s limbs on the water surface, it is also possible to fuse one’s body with the displayed objects for further augmented interaction by ‘becoming one’ with the screen.
A doorknob that knows to lock or unlock based on how it is grasped. A smartphone that silences itself if the user holds a finger to her lips. A chair that adjusts room lighting.
They are among the many possible applications of Touché, a new sensing technique developed by a team at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University.
Touché is a form of capacitive touch sensing, the same principle underlying the types of touchscreens used in most smartphones.
But instead of sensing electrical signals at a single frequency, like the typical touchscreen, Touché monitors capacitive signals across a broad range of frequencies.
This Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS) makes it possible to not only detect a “touch event,” but to recognize complex configurations of the hand or body that is doing the touching. An object thus could sense how it is being touched, or might sense the body configuration of the person doing the touching.
SFCS is robust and can enhance everyday objects by using just a single sensing electrode. Sometimes, as in the case of a doorknob or other conductive objects, the object itself can serve as a sensor and no modifications are required.
Even the human body or a body of water can be a sensor.
We look forward to the day Touché and Siri get together and make babies.