Transforming Walls Into Smart Surfaces
Conductive Paint Transforms Walls Into Sensors, Interactive Surfaces
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 can sense human touch, detect gestures and detect when appliances are used.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research found they could transform dull 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 is most convenient, or to control video games 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) and CMU alumnus. “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.