Touche Brings Touch Sensitivity to Handles, Desks, everythingComing out of Disney Research (yes, that Disney. Apparently they have a research department and it is capable of some amazing things. Who knew?) Touche is a nifty new technology that brings touch sensitivity to everything.
Using a single wire, a door knob can sense several distinct multitouch gestures previously the realm of expensive capacitive touchscreens. You really need to see the video to understand how awesome this tech is.
The basic idea is actually quite simple. See, when you touch a piece of metal, you change how capacitive it is, or the ability to carry a current. This is a measurable change. Touchscreen, then, watch for a change in that state and use that to flip between two states: touched and untouched. A touchscreen simply uses a lot of samples to determine which section of the screen is being touched, and this lets the hardware track multiple fingers.
But Touche takes a different approach: instead of monitoring a single frequency for a change, it listens to a spectrum. It turns out that one finger reads different than two fingers which reads different than a full-hand grasp which reads different from no touch at all which reads different from your elbows. By listening to a bunch of different frequencies, Touche is able to determine what part of the body is touching the surface and how many fingers that person might be using.
Most of the examples that Disney lists for this technology are pointless. But there is one in particular that struck me: using the human body as a control system for a music player.
The human body, it turns out, is capacitive enough for the technology to work. All that is needed, then, is a single wire to listen to one hand. Touch your fingers to the palm of the other and you can issue commands like volume up or volume down to the device without ever taking it out or having any visible technology.
Now tell me that isn’t cool.
You can watch the entire video where Disney introduces the tech in this page. Be warned: its surprisingly dry for a production coming from a multimedia company.