Sprayable interactive surfaces created by MIT

Researchers from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a sprayable system that allows users to create large-scale interactive surfaces with sensors and displays by using airbrushed inks.

The system, called SprayableTech, can create room-sized interactive surfaces with sensors and displays, using airbrushing of functional inks to create displays such as interactive sofas with embedded sensors to control a television and sensors for adjusting lighting and temperature through the walls of a room. 

Users can design interactive artwork in SprayableTech’s 3D editor, generating stencils automatically for airbrushing layouts onto a surface. 

By creating and using stencils from materials such as cardboard, users can add sensors to any surface or project stencils digitally. 



The technology is currently not without its drawbacks, with MIT CSAIL stating that there is difficulty in integrating sensors and display elements due to a number of design constraints, with most methods of doing so being limited to smaller scale and being held up by the size of the fabricating device. 

The team’s approach is currently focused on scale and creative expression, using airbrush technology to avoid the limitations of size brought about by printer usage, screen-printing nets or the size of hydrographic baths. 

Michael Wessely, postdoc and lead author of a paper on SprayableTech, CSAIL said: “Since SprayableTech is so flexible in its application, you can imagine using this type of system beyond walls and surfaces to power larger-scale entities like interactive smart cities and interactive architecture in public places.

“We view this as a tool that will allow humans to interact with and use their environment in newfound ways.”
 

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