You likely use touchscreens every day when interacting with your phone — perhaps even to read this article — but prototyping your own capacitive matrix is unfortunately out of reach for most makers and electronics novices. As seen here, researchers have devised a new technique that will allow for easier prototyping of this type of interface, which can function on both flat and curved surfaces, over a variety of materials.
To accomplish this, the team developed an Arduino library, as well as one for Processing, and used OpenCV to track multiple finger positions. Interactions have been tested with an Uno, Mega and LilyPad, and would presumably work with almost any other Arduino board as needed!
We introduce Multi-Touch Kit, a low-cost do it-yourself technique to enable interaction designers, makers, and electronics novices alike to rapidly create and experiment with high-resolution multi-touch sensors of custom sizes, geometries, and materials.
In contrast to existing solutions, the Multi-Touch Kit is the first technique that works with a commodity microcontroller (our implementation uses a standard Arduino) and does not require any specialized hardware. As a technical enabler, we contribute a modified multi-touch sensing scheme that lever ages the human body as a transmission channel of MHz range signals through a capacitive near-field coupling mechanism. This leads to a clean signal that can be readily processed with the Arduino’s built-in analog-to-digital converter, resulting in a sensing accuracy comparable to industrial multi-touch con trollers. Only a standard multiplexer and resistors are required alongside the Arduino to drive and read out a touch sensor matrix.
The technique is versatile and compatible with many types of multi-touch sensor matrices, including flexible sensor films on paper or PET, sensors on textiles, and sensors on 3D printed objects. Furthermore, the technique is compatible with sensors of various scale, curvature, and electrode materials (silver, copper, conductive yarn) fabricated using conductive printing, hand-drawing with a conductive pen, cutting, or stitching.