A new way with Touché; doorknobs are watching you!


Just when you thought you were too old for Disney, they come and reinvent the whole “smart” world!

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanian have taken it upon themselves to think outside the box and bring us a much more advanced and visionary method to implement the “touch screen” technology and make it part of our daily life.

While smart phones and tablets seem to be the cutting edge technology of today since they effectuate capacitive touch sensing, these devices in fact only use a single electrical signal; the value goes up or down depending if the finger is touching or not. Hence, making capacitive sensing merely binary; either the user is touching or they are not, as the video provided clearly explains.

Disney developers take it a step further by presenting Touché.

So, in brief how is Touché different?

1. The operating requirements are very simple; a single sensing electrode be attached to the object at one end and a computer at the other, which will examine the capacitive profile changes.
2. Multiple frequencies as opposed to binary ones. Meaning that 5 gestures are supported (as opposed to only two); no touch, one finger touch, pinch, circle and grasp.

Why should we be concerned?

This new technology is called the “Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS)” and it is robust; even the human body or a body of water can be a sensor not to mention the enhancements to everyday objects.

Here are some examples:
1. Smart doorknob; unlocks when grasped in a certain way.
2. Smartphone; silences itself if the user holds a finger on her/his lips.
3. Tables and chairs; sense the position of people using them.
4. Coffee machine; started with the swipe of a table.
5. Lights; turned on when feet are on the floor, and turned off where they are not.

“Signal frequency sweeps have been used for decades in wireless communication, but as far as we know, nobody previously has attempted to apply this technique to touch interaction,” said Ivan Poupyrev, senior research scientist at Disney Research, Pittsburgh.

The team will present their work at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2012) in Austin, Texas today.

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