A team of researchers from Dartmouth College and Microsoft Research has designed a smart table cloth that can detect various non-metallic objects ranging from avocadoes to credit cards. This new fabric is named as Capacitivo.
A study outlining the new system was presented with a video at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2020). Lead author of this research was Te-Yen Wu a PhD student at Dartmouth.
“This research has the potential to change the way people interact with computing through everyday soft objects made of fabrics,” said Xing-Dong Yang, an assistant professor and senior author for the study.
The recognition ability in new system works based on changes to electrical charge in its electrodes caused by changes to an object’s electrical field. These differences in charge can be related to the type of material, size, shape of the object.
Capacitivo is unique as it comes with an ability to recognize non-metallic objects such as fruits, various liquids, kitchen items, plastics and paper.
“Being able to sense non-metallic objects is a breakthrough for smart fabrics because it allows users to interact with a wide variety of everyday items in entirely new ways,” said Te-Yen Wu.
The research team studies this fabric with 20 different objects including glass and a bowl. Results showed that the sensing system achieved a 94.5% accuracy in testing.
The system was accurate for identifying different fruits like kiwis and avocados. The status of a liquid container was also relatively simple for the system to determine.
The system was less accurate for things that don’t create firm footprints on the fabric, such as credit cards.
This fabric can have a lot of potential applications. For example: when a pot plant needs watering, the smart fabric can be configured to trigger an action or reminder.
Te-Yen Wu, Lu Tan, Yuji Zhang, Teddy Seyed, Xing-Dong Yang. Capacitivo: Contact-Based Object Recognition on Interactive Fabrics using Capacitive Sensing. UIST ’20, October 20–23, 2020, Virtual Event, USA, 2020 DOI: 10.1145/3379337.3415829
Press Release: Dartmouth College