Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paint job transforms walls into sensors, interactive surfaces

24.04.2018

Smart walls react to human touch, sense activity in room

Walls are what they are -- big, dull dividers. With a few applications of conductive paint and some electronics, however, walls can become smart infrastructure that sense human touch, and detect things like gestures and when appliances are used.


Wall++ technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research can turn an entire wall into a touchpad. It also serves a sensor for electromagnetic activity

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research found that they could transform dumb walls into smart walls at relatively low cost -- about $20 per square meter --using simple tools and techniques, such as a paint roller.

These new capabilities might enable users to place or move light switches or other controls anywhere on a wall that's most convenient, or to control videogames by using gestures. By monitoring activity in the room, this system could adjust light levels when a TV is turned on or alert a user in another location when a laundry machine or electric kettle turns off.

"Walls are usually the largest surface area in a room, yet we don't make much use of them other than to separate spaces, and perhaps hold up pictures and shelves," said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). "As the internet of things and ubiquitous computing become reality, it is tempting to think that walls can become active parts of our living and work environments."

Yang Zhang, a Ph.D. student in the HCII, will present a research paper on this sensing approach, called Wall++, at CHI 2018, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 21-26 in Montreal.

The researchers found that they could use conductive paint to create electrodes across the surface of a wall, enabling it to act both as a touchpad to track users' touch and an electromagnetic sensor to detect and track electrical devices and appliances.

"Walls are large, so we knew that whatever technique we invented for smart walls would have to be low cost," Zhang said. He and his colleagues thus dispensed with expensive paints, such as those containing silver, and picked a water-based paint containing nickel.

They also wanted to make it easy to apply the special coating with simple tools and without special skills. Using painter's tape, they found they could create a cross-hatched pattern on a wall to create a grid of diamonds, which testing showed was the most effective electrode pattern. After applying two coats of conductive paint with a roller, they removed the tape and connected the electrodes. They then finished the wall with a top coat of standard latex paint to improve durability and hide the electrodes.

The electrode wall can operate in two modes -- capacitive sensing and electromagnetic (EM) sensing. In capacitive sensing, the wall functions like any other capacitive touchpad: when a person touches the wall, the touch distorts the wall's electrostatic field at that point. In EM sensing mode, the electrode can detect the distinctive electromagnetic signatures of electrical or electronic devices, enabling the system to identify the devices and their locations.

Similarly, if a person is wearing a device that emits an EM signature, the system can track the location of that person, Zhang said.

Wall++ hasn't been optimized for energy consumption, Zhang said, but he estimated the wall-sized electrodes consume about as much power as a standard touch screen.

###

In addition to Zhang and Harrison, the research team included HCII Professor Scott Hudson, and Alanson Sample and Chouchang (Jack) Yang of Disney Research.

A video demonstrating the technology is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=175LB2OiMHs&feature=youtu.be

Media Contact

Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068

 @CMUScience

http://www.cmu.edu 

Byron Spice | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.cs.cmu.edu/news/paint-job-transforms-walls-sensors-interactive-surfaces
http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3173574.3173847

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring
23.04.2019 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht CubeSats prove their worth for scientific missions
17.04.2019 | American Physical Society

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Full speed ahead for SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019

Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.

It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...

Im Focus: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-efficiency thermoelectric materials: New insights into tin selenide

25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences

Salish seafloor mapping identifies earthquake and tsunami risks

25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Using DNA templates to harness the sun's energy

25.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>