Carnegie Mellon and Disney Research have teamed up to create a prototype called Touché that turns almost any surface — from solid to liquid — into a multifaceted touch surface.
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.