Make any Surface TouchScreen

We’ve seen how you can use your hand as TouchScreen. However, with the hack finally being mastered with Kinect technology, you can make just any surface touch screen, no matter what.

Microsoft researchers have come up with a way to make devices sensitive to touch input through fabric — for silencing a phone or even entering text without taking the device out of a pocket or bag.

PocketTouch uses a custom sensor on the back of a smartphone that can detect multitouch gestures even through heavy fleece or a jacket pocket. The The first prototype is complete and we would see a demonstration sometime soon.

Microsoft uses “orientation-defining unlock gesture” that essentially tells the device which way is up, thereby removing the problem where device can be in a different orientation inside pockets. Grid of touch sensors can detect finger strokes through cloth and hence make it possible to have a specific unlock gesture that reorientates the screen each time you use it – avoiding the need to flip your phone upside down before using the interface.

OmniTouch

OmniTouch makes any surface touch compatible. OmniTouch uses a a pico projector and a depth camera (like Kinect) to let people interact with programs projected onto their skin or other surfaces. Users can define the size and location of their own interfaces, or let the system decide the best choice of display.

The researcher calls it a “mega Kinect hack” and an extension of his previous device which could only work on skin. While the prototype device is quite bulky, soon it would be possible to reduce the size of the equipment to the size of matchbox.

Both systems are being presented this week at the User Interface Software and Technology symposium in Santa Barbara, California.

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