Have you ever wanted to control devices by touching everyday objects and even parts of your body? Sure you have! And a team at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University is working on the technology to make it possible. Dubbed “Touché”, the technique uses something called ‘Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing’ that will enable real-world objects like chairs or doorknobs not only detect a touch event, but also recognize what they are being touched by and how they are being touched.
Researchers said the technology works by using a sensing circuit to monitor how the electrical signal passing through an object changes when touched by a conductive material -- such as a human finger. Thanks to what Disney calls a “capacitive profile”, which will vary depending on the stimuli applied, the system can distinguish the touch of a single finger, multiple fingers, a full-hand grasp and many other touch gestures.
The video below does a much better job explaining the technology:
Touché is still at an early concept stage but researchers are already envisioning its applicability in multiple scenarios, from controlling a mobile music player without taking it out of the pocket through touch gestures on your body, to a doorknob that knows whether to lock or unlock based on how it is grasped.
Granted, the examples shown in the video don’t seem like much of an improvement over how we do things today, but as the technology matures plenty of creative implementations might surface. Disney will present the technology at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas from May 5-10.