A Touch-Enabling Spray Paint!

Aug 28, 2017 By Rachel Catherine
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What if I told you, you could make anything a touch-enabled device with one simple ingredient...spray paint? Sound like something from Back to the Future?

As crazy and futuristic as this might sound, this touch-enabling spray paint is a very real thing…

In May of this year, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University announced their incredible new discovery, called Electrick, causing excitement in a world where we are constantly wondering, “what’s next in tech?” Electrick can turn virtually any material, including wood, plastic, drywall, and even Jell-O and Play-Doh, into a touch sensitive surface.

How Do Touchpads Work?

There’s a lot of really complex science that goes on behind touchpads, but one simple way of explaining the idea is that any touchpad surface carries a small electrical charge. When you touch your finger to that surface, the charge is disrupted. (Think of it like a laser for a security system. When you step into the path of the laser beam, the connection of the beam is broken, and the alarm is triggered.) Similarly, when the charge is disrupted by your touch, a computer can figure out where you’ve touched simply by figuring out where the charge was disrupted.

In order for the spray paint to work on an object, the spray paint must be sprayed on the object and allowed to create an electrical charge through a process called Electric Field Tomography. Then, small electrodes are placed around the edge of the object. These electrodes act as the “computer” that detects the disruptions in the electrical charge.

As you can see, this is no simple process...take a look at the video below to see this incredible invention in action!