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Touch screen just a spray away


Cheap sensing technology can be sprayed on to uneven surfaces like steering wheels, researchers in America have shown.

Using a can of spray paint, a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, applied electrically conductive materials, which respond to touch through a technique called ‘electric field tomography’. By placing electrodes on the conductive coatings, the surface can be controlled with the touch of a finger.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touch screen on almost anything,” said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and head of the Future Interfaces Group.

A whole variety of surfaces can be transformed in this way, including toys and furniture, with the technology labelled Electrick. The team will showcase Electrick at CHI conference in Denver this week.

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