Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Printed Electronics: A Multi-Touch Sensor Customizable with Scissors

08.10.2013
If a pair of trousers is too long, it is cut shorter. A board that does not fit into a bookcase is sawed to the right length.

People often customize the size and shape of materials like textiles and wood without turning to specialists like tailors or carpenters. In the future this should be possible with electronics, according to the vision of computer scientists from Saarbrücken.


By customizing and pasting the new sensor you can make every surface interactive.
Saarland University

Together with researchers from the MIT Media Lab, they developed a printable multi-touch sensor whose shape and size everybody can alter. A new circuit layout makes it robust against cuts, damage, and removed areas.

Today the researchers are presenting their work at the conference “User Interface and Technology” (UIST) in St. Andrews, Scotland.

“Imagine a kid takes our sensor film and cuts out a flower with stem and leaves. If you touch the blossom with a finger, you hear the buzzing of a bumblebee”, Jürgen Steimle says. He reports that programs and apps are easily imaginable to help parents connect touching a sensor film with the suitable sound effect. Steimle, 33, has a doctoral degree in computer science and is doing research at the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics. He also heads the Embodied Interaction research group at the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction.

Simon Olberding is the doctoral candidate and the lead developer of the new sensor. He sees a further application of the new technology in so-called interactive walls used for discussions and brainstorming. “So far, such a wall frays and scuffs quickly as we hammer nails into it, stick notes or posters on it, and damage it while removing them. By customizing and pasting on our new sensor you can make every surface interactive no matter if it is the wristband of a watch, a cloth on a trade fair table, or wallpaper”, Olberding says.

As basic technology the scientists use so-called “printed electronics”. This term summarizes electrical components and devices which are printed. The approach is similar to that of inkjet printers. Instead of printing with normal ink, electrically-functional electronic ink is printed on flexible, thin films (so-called substrates). “The factory costs are so low that printing our DIN A4 film on our special printer in the lab costs us about one US dollar”, Steimle says.

But you need more than printed electronics to make a sensor robust against cuts, damage, and removed areas. So far the circuit layout of a multi-touch sensor has been similar to graph paper. The wires run horizontally, vertically, and parallel to each other. At the intersection of one parallel and one horizontal layer you find the touch-sensitive electrodes. Via the wires they are connected to a controller. This type of layout requires only a minimal number of wires, but is not robust. Since each wire addresses several electrodes, a small cut has a huge effect: many electrodes become unusable and possibly large sensor areas do not work anymore. “It was not easy to find an alternative layout, robust enough for our approach”, Olberding says. They took their inspiration from nature, looking at the human nerve system and fungal root networks, and thus came up with two basic layouts. The so-called star topology has the controller in the center. It is connected to every electrode separately. The so-called tree topology also has the controller in its center connected to each electrode separately. But the wires are bundled similarly to a tree structure. They all run through a vertical line in the middle and then branch off to reach their electrodes.

The scientists found out that the star topology supports often-used basic forms like triangles, rectangles, or ovals best. Furthermore, it is suitable for shapes commonly used for crafts, like stars, clouds, or hearts. In contrast, with the tree topology it is possible to cut out whole areas. The researchers were also able to combine both layouts in a space-saving way, so that the sensor supports all basic forms.

“We assume that printed sensors will be so inexpensive that multi-touch sensing capability will become an inherent part of the material. Users can take it to create interactive applications or just to write on it”, Steimle explains. This vision is not so far away, as a prediction from the “Organic and Printed Electronic Association” shows. The international industry association forecast that flexible consumer electronics will be available for end-users between the years 2017 and 2020.

Further information:

Project:
http://embodied.mpi-inf.mpg.de/research/cuttable-multi-touch-sensor/
Publication:
Simon Olberding, Nan-Wei Gong, John Tiab, Joseph A. Paradiso and Jürgen Steimle. A Cuttable Multi-touch Sensor. In Proc. UIST 2013 (Full Paper). http://embodied.mpi-inf.mpg.de/files/2012/11/ACuttableMultiTouchSensor.pdf
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnTG_ZTYdVk
Figure:
www.uni-saarland.de/pressefotos
Further questions are answered by:
Dr. Jürgen Steimle
Max Planck Institute for Informatics
Email: jsteimle@mpi-inf.mpg.de
Simon Olberding
Max Planck Institute for Informatics
Email: solberdi@mpi-inf.mpg.de
Editor:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Competence Center of Computer Science Saarland
Email: bolduan@mmci.uni-saarland.de
Tel: +49 681 302 70741

Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-saarland.de

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers pave the way for ionotronic nanodevices
23.02.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>