Flexible touchscreen technology is hardly a new idea. Companies like 3M have been working with flexible multi-touch surfaces for several years. However, a key problem with this technology is that if you need to cut down a touch surface for a custom fit (for example, an item of clothing or a piece of custom jewelry), you usually end up destroying it in the process. However, a team at Saarland University and MIT Media Lab have come up with a solution: a flexible touch surface that can be easily printed, cut to fit, and still work.
This new technology could bring touch-enabled interfaces into the homes of creative people. Want to create your own wearable tech? No problem! Just print up your interface on an inkjet printer using conductive ink. This ink creates nodes that connect to a main controller in the center of your piece of paper, cloth, etc. The research team discovered that by keeping the controller in the center and running a separate wire to each node guarantees that once you cut your material, the touch interface will still work. In other words, if you want to make a tablecloth that is completely interactive, you can.
Obviously, there is still the question about how this technology could be used to interact with other technology. A touchscreen is cool, but the point of such an interface is to use it and make it do something. For example, let’s say you want your new fancy tablecloth to control your room’s thermostat. You would still need to figure out how to program and configure such a system, although with DIY electronics like Arduino, it should eventually be possible to do on your own at home.
Via Extreme Tech