[Lab] Touch sensitive/reactive windows

Darcy Whyte darcy at siteware.com
Tue Mar 15 21:56:07 EDT 2011

Sounds like an interesting challenge given that it needs to scale. Here are
some things that have popped into my mind.

1) What about mounting each window on piezoelectric transducers. Or perhaps
two grommets and one transducer per window. It can then detect micro
pressure change and sound with just one transducer. I bet this could be
extremely sensitive.

2) If a whole matrix of windows was just one pane of material mounted on
transducers, I wonder if you could guess where the pressure is based on the
differences in pressure at the mounting points.

One thing that comes to mind with these transducers as they will pick up all
sorts of things like tapping, scratching, pressing and perhaps even more
subtle things like loud noises outside the device. You could make different
patterns of lights for different types of stimulus. Perhaps for a tap light
could start at the point of contact and then radiate outward.across the
matrix. A scratch could start a light pattern moving linearly. A press could
radiate outward with increase in pressure. I suppose the pane of material
might resonate and give some surprises.

3) A collection of small Web cams inside. I think this was discussed.

If each matrix had more then one camera, monitoring it from a different
vantage point, you might be able to get some interesting ways of figuring
out which windows are being stimulated by the observer. Perhaps some cams
can look outside the device without looking through the windows.

An outside camera could look for faces, expressions (like a camera looks for
smiles). This could be used to impact the behavior of the device.

Message: 1
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2011 14:30:59 -0400
From: "Andrew O'Malley" <aomalley at gmail.com>
Subject: [Lab] Touch sensitive/reactive windows
To: lab <lab at artengine.ca>
       <AANLkTi=1Z4yqN4vASt7xCQnTKPwnh_bXPXqFGNEnbcn- at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Hi gang,

I'm working on a an interactive light piece which is basically a large
tower covered in windows:

Each window will be translucent acrylic, and illuminated from behind.
To provide interaction, I'd like each window to be touch sensitive.
I'd like to use a capacitive sensing approach, but not sure if this
will work until I do some experiments; I fear over such a large area
capacitive sensing will be very noisy.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone might have as
to how to detect users touching the windows.  I'd like to avoid having
to use little buttons beside each window or turning each window into a
mechanical switch -- since there are 100+ windows, I'm looking for a
solution that scales reasonably well.

Light or IR sensors might be an option, but I imagine will require a
great deal of calibration.  Does anyone have any experience sensing IR
reflections through translucent or tinted acrylic?

The piece is still in the design stage, so I'd love to hear your

Thanks in advance for your consideration and suggestions,
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