Travel & Leisure

Turning Your Walls Into Touchpads

With the advent of touch-sensitive walls, your house is getting “smarter” every day


By Katrina Caruso

The walls in your home may soon be able to communicate—if not with you, then at least with your smartphone, smart speaker, TV, fridge, thermostat, appliances…. Over the past year, “smart” home products have been popping up everywhere, and the tech world is intent on expanding the home’s possibilities.

For about $20 per metre, according the developers’ estimates, the new Wall++ technology uses conductive paint and a sensor board to turn walls into giant touchpads, just like those on smartphones. The wall would respond to a user’s touch and movements, allowing the user to control devices with taps, swipes, and even gestures. The smart walls could control music and lighting, for example, and send commands to appliances and other smart technologies.

Developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute along with researchers from Disney, the Wall++ technology was presented in late April at the 2018 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, held in Montreal.

On the surface, the smart wall looks exactly like a regular wall, but underneath the paint job is a grid of copper tape and electricity conducting paint. The technology comes on the heels of a previously released system called Electrick, also from researchers at Carnegie Mellon, which could also allow users to turn smooth surfaces into touchpads through conductive paint.

The Wall++ technology is not yet available for consumers, but it points to even greater possibilities for interior spaces and the future of smart buildings.

Photo: Thinkstock/Jupiterimages.