EMI harnessed to add touch and gesture control to any screen

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) has been used to cheaply transform LCDs into touch and gesture controlled displays, according to a recent article in the MIT Technology Review. Researchers from the University of Washington's Ubiquitous Computing Lab presented a method, called uTouch, that harnesses sensor and software developments to manipulate electromagnetic interference and transform any screen into an interactive display.

“All these devices around you have all these signals coming out of them, and we ignore them because we think they’re noise,” Sidhant Gupta, a PhD candidate at the Lab told the MIT Technology Review.

The group presented its findings in a paper at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris at the beginning of May.

They argued that the technology, which requires no more than a $5 (€3.90) sensor plugged into a wall outlet, could be used to add touch and gesture interaction to large displays.

Gupta says his group’s method works by measuring signals that are normally given off by an LCD display and how they change when a user brings a hand near the screen.