Touche – Disney to Change the World through Touch

Touche – Disney to Change the World through Touch

Capacitive profiles for sensing body postures (Credit: Disney Research)
A truly transformative technology doesn’t come by every day. Disney recently demonstrated a prototype of what has the potential to become one of the most life changing technologies developed in recent years. Named Touché, this unassuming touch sensitive technology might change the way we shall interact with almost anything in our environment in the future.
If you were under the impression that Disney is just about Hollywood kids blockbusters, meet Disney Research. Scientists and engineers from Disney Research alongside associates from Carnegie Mellon University recently demonstrated Touché – a groundbreaking capacitive touch technology with an almost endless amount of potential applications.
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In a conventional capacitive touch technology (such as the one used in many smart phones and tablets today) a conductive object is excited by an electrical signal at a fixed frequency. A special sensor monitors the return signal and determines if a user has touched the device by identifying changes in this signal caused by the electrical properties of  the human hand touching it. This is basically a binary process (touch/no touch).
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Touché on the other hand is a Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS) technology which monitors a range of frequencies making it possible to not only detect a “touch event,” but to recognize complex configurations of the hand or body touching. This simply means that any object which will include a Touché chip (a mobile phone, laptop table or even your sofa) could in essence feel exactly how it’s being touched (according to the team the technology demonstrated almost a 100% recognition during trails). The same technology might even sense complex human touch interactions involving no other objects (tapping on your wrist while wearing a Touché sensor could start or end a phone call on your iPhone).
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In the following video you can see a demonstration of Touché prototype in action 

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Touché will probably find some of its first uses in the field of home automation, where simple gestures and interactions with almost any household object (including your coach, kitchen faucet and bathroom door) could perform actions currently impossible (dim the lights, turn on/off music, lock the door etc.).
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In the future one could imagine an entire ecosystem of devices with a Touché sensor implemented inside them – from light switches to microwaves and even our furniture (a bed that turn of the lights and TV when you crash after a hard day?). The same technology can surly find many uses in computers and gadgets and even children’s toys. It’s almost impossible to think of a an area where such a touch sensing technology might not have a potential life changing influence.
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More information can be found on Disney research website  and on the following PDF for more technical information.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

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