A touchy-feely dashboard
Researchers at a Canadian engineering school, Montreal’s École Polytechnique, have been looking at how to develop a specific touch-sensitive textile that could replace a car dashboard.
Headed by Professor Maksim Skorobogatiy, the scientists have come up with a ground-breaking conductive fabric made from Teflon-like polymer fibres. The fabric reacts to pressure in the same way as touchscreen devices, so dragging a finger across its surface or pinching the screen has a specific effect. This allows it to be used as an interface. What's more, the fabric contains a very thin copper wire wrapped in conducting and insulating films. Swiping a finger across its surface can modify its capacity, and changes can be measured by software that detects where the fabric was touched to effect the corresponding action.
"We are looking for applications where we could weave in sleek, non-invasive control, avoiding blocks of push buttons," says Maksim Skorobogatiy. So far, two car manufacturers, including BMW, have embarked on this project put forward at the start of the year.