Trimmable Printed Sensors Can Add Multitouch To Any Device

Multitouch user interfaces are slowly finding their way into all kinds of devices, not just phones and tablets. Thanks to researchers at MIT and the Max Planck Institute who have developed a printable sensor that can be easily cut down to size with a regular old pair of scissors, any device or appliance you can think of could soon be enhanced with multitouch controls.

Traditional touch-sensing panels feature electrodes wired together in a grid pattern, and if any of those connections are severed, large portions of the panel are knocked out of commission. But these new printed panels — which of course means they’re cheap to produce — feature the electrodes and wiring arranged in unique patterns that ensure they still function no matter what size or shape they’ve been cut down to.

So imagine cutting a thin strip of this material to add multitouch capabilities to a watch band, or simply creating a large circle and turning a round table into a giant multitouch interface. The flexibility of this approach, including the fact that it’s built into thin sheets of paper, makes adding multitouch capabilities to almost device relatively easy. A central controller still needs to be integrated and wired into a given device, so it’s not as easy as just applying a decal. But just imagine a day when you’ll never lose your TV remote in your couch cushions because the cushions themselves are the remote. [A Cuttable Multi-touch Sensor (PDF) via TechCrunch]