back to article Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls

At about $20 per square metre, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have devised a way to turn walls into a touch interface. In a paper [PDF] scheduled to be presented at CHI 2018, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Montreal this week, researchers Yang Zhang, Chouchang (Jack) Yang …

  1. Martin Gregorie

    Some finishes considered harmful

    Its probably not a good idea to use a pale coloured, matt paint on those walls.

    If you do, then it won't be long before everybody can find your light switches and other favourite touchpoints by spotting the greasy patches.

  2. jake Silver badge

    "airborne electromagnetic noise"


    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: "airborne electromagnetic noise"

      I suppose we could go all pre-Einstein (or pre- Michelson Morley, if you prefer) and say "etherborne" instead :-)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "airborne electromagnetic noise"

        That would be ætherborne, Shirley.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "airborne electromagnetic noise"

          don't call him Shirley.

  3. Brian Miller

    Scientists find the obvious!

    It makes me cringe when I see things like this. Look! Men with PhDs have recently discovered decades-old knowledge! Next, photoelectric cells will be used to cause doors to open.

    Other obvious things: cameras can watch people, and when they make special movements, computers can make things happen, too!

    Did someone not notice the 1930s World Fair? Elektro, wherefore art thou?

    1. Patrick R

      Re: Scientists find the obvious!

      yeah... nothing new here. Walls with Windows.pfff...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    So it's a...

    WALL-E ?

  5. VinceH

    May as well add in the ability to pick up sound. Then we can truly say "walls have ears".

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Paint on the floor and you have you're own permanent twister installation.

    Yeay for that .

    And since you have a micro controller board already generating a low power near field signal doesn't seem that tough.

    Or is it that a "passive" system needs no FCC license

    No doubt the chemistry is pretty clever and maybe the algorithms but why exactly?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm good with a light switch for my lights, and I have never understood why some folk like watching telly with the lights down or off (but then, too much contrast hurts my eyes). Seems like extra points of failure to me, just like remote-controlled lighting.

    I also can't help wondering what might happen in a house party if a couple were snogging against the wall in a dark corner - they mightn't be best pleased if they accidentally turned the lights on!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: if a couple were snogging against the wall...

      So that's why the lights at my neighbours house keep turning off-on-off-on-off-on-off all the time...

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Yeah I like a switch I can replace without needing to repaint the whole wall.

  8. Michael Habel

    This is just another Trick by the MAFIAA (Since MicroSofts Kenect has faild to do so), prevent you from having to many viewers (for whatever), in a Room, unless you're willing to buy a better licence.

  9. Allan George Dyer
    Paris Hilton

    So what happens when I hammer in a nail for a picture hook?

    1. Justicesays

      you'll start seeing adverts for hammers, nails and wall mounted artwork.

  10. Mystic Megabyte

    At about $20 per square metre,

    Well it's cheaper than Dulux!

  11. SVV


    "The researchers call their system Wall++ and suggest it could be used in place of light switches, audio player controls, thermostats, numeric keypads, and the like."

    You mean like a smartphone or tablet already can? Sorry, can't be arsed getting out of my Chair++

  12. erikborgo

    Nickel is cancerous

    It'll break down with exposure to UV, time and chemicals, drift into your lungs and kill you:

    ...and if not, it'll be yet another spying vector...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Nickel is cancerous

      Yeahbut ... This paint is a water based urethane, with embedded nickle flakes (not powder or dust). It's UV resistant (hardly important indoors!), and not prone to flake, chip or spall. The carrier is an oxygen barrier, so oxidation isn't a problem. Standard solvents (including water) don't affect it once it has cured (not dried!). So after application, what's the mechanism for getting enough into the lungs or onto the skin to do damage?

      Agree with your colophon. In fact, I suspect that's the ONLY thing it'll be used for.

      1. erikborgo

        Re: Nickel is cancerous

        It's like saying asbestos is safe in your house, if you don't mess with it. Trouble is, it becomes friable over time. LED lights (also CFL, to a lesser degree) emit UV or near enough - so much so that museums hastily reverted back to halogen because of the "Our Masterpiece Is Mysteriously Fading Despite Being Kept Out Of Sunlight" problem.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect the first widespread use we'll see of this is monitoring the movement of people in shopping malls, airports and train stations....

    Completely innocent and anonymous, of course. Yeah, right.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      It's called 'metadata', sir.

      Please. It is called METAdata. No identities. Evah.

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