15.05.18

Scientists are developing multitouch stickers to control devices

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MultiTouch skin patch on wrist and behind ear

In a bid to take wearable technology one step further, scientists at a German university are developing multitouch stickers for the body.

The system, called Multi-Touch Skin, resembles a touch display in its structure and was developed by a research group led by Jürgen Steimle, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saarland.

According to Steimle’s team, the gauze-like sensors can be created in any shape and can be stuck anywhere on the body. It means that mobile devices can be operated intuitively and discretely with a product that can be produced with little skill or effort.

The researchers wrote that it was the first time that touches could be detected on the body precisely and simultaneously by several fingers.

A release from the university outlined four different applications where prototypes had been successfully tested. In one example, a sensor was attached behind a subject’s ear, allowing them to swipe up and down to adjust volume, left and right to change a song and touch flat to stop the song.

The scientists note that one of the most crucial requirements of a system that could be effectively used on the body was that that it could be created in a variety of shapes. In order to achieve this they had to create a software for designers so they can choose the shape of the sensor. The program allows them to draw the outer shape of the sensor, before outlining the area that should be touch sensitive. An algorithm then calculates the area-wide coverage of touch-sensitive electrodes for the defined area before the sensor is printed.

Steimle presented the findings with members of the research group - Aditya Shekhar Nittala, Anusha Withana and Narjes Pourjafarian – at the CHI Human Factors in Computing Systems conference in Montreal, Canada, on April 26.