Almost Anything Can Be A Touch Input with The Touch Board and Electric Paint
Bare Conductive, a British startup, has designed an Arduino Leonardo compatible board with 12 capacitive touch sensors called the Touch Board. You can basically use any conductive material as a touch sensor, but the company’s existing “electric paint” really makes the board come to life, and you can just draw circuit anywhere, be it on paper, your wall, cardboard, and create fun and useful applications.
- MCU – Atmel ATMega32U4 Microprocessor @ 16 MHz with 32 KB of Flash Memory of which 4 KB is used for bootloader.
- External storage – MicroSD card slot
- 20 digital I/O pins (3 used for Touch IC and 5 for MP3 IC – can be disabled)
- 7 PWM channels
- 12 analog input channels
- 12 Touch electrodes of which 8 can be configured as extra digital inputs or outputs with PWM capability. (via Freescale MPR121)
- Audio – Playback and MIDI support via VLSI VS1053B audio processor, 3.5mm audio jack.
- Misc – On/Off switch when powered from battery
- Power – 5V operating voltage (automatic voltage selector for USB or battery operation)
- Battery support – Built in LiPo battery charging with onboard boost circuit for 5V operation
- Dimensions – 84mm x 62mm foot print with maximum height of 10mm (audio connector)
The board is recognized as a Leonardo board in the Arduino IDE, and it can be powered and programmed over USB like any Arduino board. However to get started, you won’t even need to program the board, as it will be preloaded with sketch to play music from the micro SD card, depending on which sensor you touch. However, for more fun, and to create your custom design, you’ll eventually have to program the board. The Touch Board will be open source software and hardware, and Eagle files, schematics, and parts list will be available for download, as well as sample code and libraries.
The best way to figure out the possibilities of such board is to watch the company Kickstarter’s video, where they showcase some of the applications: cardboard radio, talk alphabet wall, drum machine, painted light switch, piano, and so on. It could be great for home automation as instead of using actual switches you could just paint your wall with switches.
Most of the examples above use the company’s electric paint, but you can also connect any conductive material such as tin foil, copper,
mother-in-law, conductive thread, nails, etc…
Product development is completed, but the company now needs to manufacture the board, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to gather the needed funds. The campaign started at the end of last month, and they’re already funded (over £82,000), so you’re nearly certain the products will come to life. There are 2 pledges that have been particularly popular to-date:
- TOUCH BOARD (£45 ~ $72.5) – Contains one Touch Board, a microSD card and an Electric Paint Pen. Free shipping within UK, £5 outside. You can also add a micro USB cable for £2 and/or a rechargeable LiPo battery for £5.
- INVENTORS KIT (£90 ~ $145) – Contains one Touch Board with a microSD card, an Electric Paint Pen as well as an Electric Paint Jar, 12 alligator clips, a micro USB cable, a universal USB power supply, a rechargeable LiPo battery and a mini speaker. Free shipping within UK, £7 outside.
Expected delivery date is March 2014. All pledges will also get an extra stencil as the company reach their stretch goal.