Turn Any Surface Into A Touch Screen Using This Spray

Is that touchpad too small for you? Well, this spray - called Electrick - is here to help, adding touch sensitivity to any surface with a spritz.

Developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, the spray is an electrically conductive carbon-based material - which allows any surface it's sprayed on to conduct electricity. 

With electrodes applied to said object, the surface can measure the voltage at different points and track the position of a person’s finger. Yes, this really is as insane as it sounds… With self-imagined uses like smart home controls sprayed on the wall, or TV controls sprayed onto the coffee table!

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

As demonstrated in the video down below and in their open access paper, the team of scientists have been able to apply a touch surface to a whole load of objects - including phone cases, toys and even Jell-O.

So, how specifically does it work? Well, it’s all about an effect called shunting - where an electric current can be moved to the ground when a finger touches the surface in a particular spot. The electrodes can locate where the finger is touching using a process known as electric field tomography (a form of sectioning).

Now, when can we get this? It may be closer than you think… It’s been successfully tested, is compatible with regular manufacturing methods and (pending more tests to see how it could be affected by rain and what they call “environmental electromagnetic noise” from other appliances, this is a great start.