Create a sensor or do something with sensitivity was the assignment. We explored capacitive sensing. This type of sensor is found in all touchscreens and pretty much everything that responds to touch or proximity. Despite that people don't know about this.
This trackpad uses the unique ability so sense proximity to add the z-axis to control digital environments in a more engaging way. After research and experimentation we came up with the glorified trackpad. This is a study into haptics, tactility and alternative methods of controlling digital environments.
Duration: 2 weeks
My experiments started with liquid waves to visualize sound.
To make this interactive I attempted to build a theremin. This turned out to be harder than expected, but made us interested in proximity and making stuff happen based on your distance.
So we started exerimenting with capacitive sensing. The dots on the screen grow when coming closer to one of the sensor pin. One sensor pin corresponds to one circle.
Basic sketch to find out how to build the prototype.
To make the response direct we made a box with LED's that go brighter when coming closer.
The first version had an acryl plate to cover the inside. This creates a nice diffused effect from the LED's. After testing this, we noticed people stroke and push the plate.
To make use of the ability that capacitive sensor can sense proximity, the acryl plate was replaced by an elastic fabric. This adds the depth dimension. It is a much more natural and realistic way to use this to navigate through digital spaces.
Final exhibition setup. The screen shows an example of a digital space you can manipulate with this XYZ trackpad.
The deeper you push into the fabric, the bigger the circle grows.