How could you turn any object into a touchscreen?

Answer: make it Electrick

by / May 9, 2017

We’ve grown accustomed to interacting with devices like smartphones and kiosks using touch. But how could that same technology be applied to objects that aren’t smooth and flat? One word: Electrick.

Electrick is a system that adds a conductive coating — such as an electricity-conducting spray — to any object of any size or shape. Electrodes are then added to the object’s outer edge. When a finger touches the object’s surface, it interrupts the current, and Electrick’s software algorithm senses where the touch was based on its proximity to different electrodes.

The system was developed by researchers from the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University. In an explanatory video, they demonstrate different ways Electrick can enable touch interaction with everything from walls — covered in conductive paint, they can then be used to turn lights on and off with one touch — to an electric guitar, whose touch-sensitive body can then serve the function of traditional pedals. Electrick can even be used with materials like PlayDoh, and toymakers could bind sound effects to different locations on the toy.