Feature

How to turn anything into a touch screen

This "cheap, simple" method may be available sooner than you think

"How would you like a toy, steering wheel, wall, or electric guitar with a touch pad?" said Rachel Metz at Technology Review. Most touch screens today are flat, because it can be tricky to add touch responsiveness to bumpy or irregular surfaces. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they have created a "cheap, simple" way to add a touch pad to everyday objects "by spraying them with conductive paint, adding electrodes, and computing where you press on them."

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In a demo video, the researchers showed how the technique, called Electrick, could let you control a room light. Tapping an "Electrick-ified" area of the wall turns the light on and off and sliding a finger dims the bulb. A sprayed steering wheel was also able to "detect the presence of hands and gestures." Yang Zhang, the graduate student who led the project, hopes to make Electrick into a commercial product after further testing.

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