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Touché: Making Real World Touch Sensitive
What is Touché?
Touché is a new sensing technology designed to make the entire world around us richly interactive and responsive, easily and inexpensively. Touché can detect touch, proximity, and gestures on a wide variety of everyday objects and even on human body. Unconventional materials, such as water and living matter, can also be sensed to enable new and exciting applications.

Touché uses a new sensing approach that we invented called swept frequency capacitive sensing. Instead of sensing capacitive touch at one frequency, we sense hundreds of frequencies to construct a complex capacitive profile. This profile contains rich information about the state of the user and the objects that they interact with. Not only can complex gestures be sensed and recognized, but also proximity and the configuration of the human body during touch. Complicated instrumentation is not required; interaction cab be sensed simply by attaching a single wire to the object or user.
Touché is fundamental, general technology that enables endless number of novel exciting applications and interactive experiences that were difficult or even impossible to create before. See Botanicus Interacticus and Capacitive Fingerprinting projects for some of the in-depth explorations of the applications of Touché technology.
Touché in Pictures
Touché is a new sensing technology that allows to make everyday objects, such as a common door knob, touch and gesture sensitive by attaching it to our sensor with just a single wire.
Touché is low-power and miniature sensor; it can be embedded into small hand held devices and recognize how the human hand is grasping them.
Touché can make human body touch and gesture sensitive and recognize how the user is touching her own body.
Touché can sense touch and hand postures on everyday objects, hand grasp on hand-held devices, human gestures directly on their bodies and with unusual materials such as water.
Touché is measuring capacitive response of an object and human body at multiple frequencies, a technique that we called Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing. The signal travels through an object or human body via different paths depending on signal frequency, capturing the posture of human hand and body as well as other properties of the interaction context. The resulted data is classified using machine learning algorithms to identify gestures that are then used to trigger desired responses of the user interface.
In one examplatory set up we can measure the configuration of human hand when it is touching a doorknob.
Number of fingers pinching a handheld object can also be recognized.
Touché can recognize how the user touches his own body.
Our sensing technology allows to measure touche and gesture interactivity on unusual materials such water and other liquids.
Touché sensing is performed on a custom-made control board, which is powered by ARM Cortex-M3 120 Mhz microprocessor. The sensor board is compact, battery powered and equipped with on-board Bluetooth wireless communication. It can add touch and gesture sensitivity to a broad variety of objects by using just a single wire connection. Both stationary and handheld objects could be easily augmented with sensor.
Publications, Awards
Sato, M., Poupyrev, I., Harrison, C. Touché: Enhancing Touch Interaction on Humans, Screens, Liquids, and Everyday Objects. In Proceedings of CHI 2012: ACM. pp. 483-492 [PDF].
Poupyrev, I., Yeo, Z., Griffin, J., Hudson, S. Sensing Human Activities with Resonant Tuning. Extended Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010, Late-Breaking Results, 2010: ACM. pp. 4135-4140 [PDF].
Best Paper Award at the ACM CHI 2012 Conference.
Team and Credits
The final version of Touché made public in 2012 was developed in collaboration with Munehiko Sato (University of Tokyo) and Chris Harrison (HCII, Carnegie Mellon University).
The first versions of Touché hardware was developed in 2010-2011 by myself and Zhiquan Yeo (Carnegie Mellon University at that time) and first interactive explorations as well as early software implemtnation was developed togeather with Jonas Loh (Royal College of Art at that time).
Josh Griffin from Disney Research Pittsburgh and Scott Hudson from CMU provided early feedback on technology in 2010.
Touché: Making Real World Touch Sensitive

Touché: Making Real World Touch Sensitive

Touché is a new sensing technology designed to make the entire world around us richly interactive and responsive, easily and inexpensively.

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