Sto Material Connexions Interactive Display

We caught up with Andy Hunt from the B2B creative agency, Godfrey to learn more about the interactive project they created for one of their clients.

The idea was to turn a drafting table into an interactive display surface showcasing the client’s range of products. It was important that the table look like any other table until touched, at which point it would trigger the interactive elements. The team wanted the table to look like it was disconnected from everything except power in order to preserve the illusion that this was just a normal drafting table.

They had four pieces of content to trigger independently. This included 3 pieces of video content on 2 separate monitors, a light source, and a sound file.

We learn how they set it all up in the interview below.

How did you hear about us?

I saw a video on the topic of creating magical experiences at SXSW in 2015. One of the highlighted experiences in the video was a touch wall that used conductive paint. It looked like a great way to create the unexpected from the familiar. With some free time on my hands late last year I got the Touch Board Starter Kit and started getting familiar with Electric Paint as well as with programming the board.

Why did you want to work with Electric Paint and the Touch Board?

In general, the making of magical experiences is what we strive for. Electric Paint gives us a great opportunity to do this. We can transform ordinary objects into super-powered substances of delight.

As for Bare Conductive’s products, they are just so easy to work with. There’s a lot of starter materials and how-to resources online, especially the tutorial on getting started with programming the Touch Board. Every time we wanted to get something to work we just did it by following the instructions. Once we got it working, we just kept tweaking things a little bit more and every time we were able to do what we needed to. No compromises.

What software tools were you using?

To reprogram the Touch Board I used the Arduino Software IDE. I used Microsoft Visual Studio as my IDE to write the unifying web app. That used node.js and and some HTML/JS and CSS. I had to take inputs from the Touch Board and send them out through a PC to talk to 2 other PCs and to a Philips Hue Smart Lighting system.

Did you encounter any difficulties while using the Touch Board and Electric Paint?

Not really. We did some experiments applying the paint to different surfaces to get an understanding of how well it would adhere, dry and get a feel for tactility. The paint worked better on some surfaces and under some applications than others, but that was expected.

What was the most challenging part of the project?

From a creative standpoint, trying something we’ve never done before but having the faith in ourselves that we could. The client deserves a lot of credit also for backing the idea and trusting us to pull it off.

From an execution standpoint, getting the paint applied and connected to the wires through the desk such that on touch the user didn’t feel anything special. We drilled through the desk using a small drill bit, then passed wiring from the back to the surface where we applied the ink. This was where users would touch and we wanted the feel to be invisible.

What was the concept behind the project?

Our client, Sto Corp, is a global leader in wall system technologies, including exterior insulation, air/moisture barriers, advanced coatings and functional finishes. They were at a show primarily focused on the architect and designer audience, so they wanted to present several key coatings and finishes in a thought-provoking way.

Could you share more details on the way you used our technology?

We reprogrammed the Touch Board to act as a keyboard interface and used 4 of the 12 inputs to simulate key presses. The Touch Board was connected to a PC running a node.js and based web app. As touches were detected, the web app would broadcast on the network giving unique commands to the other PCs triggering either the videos or the sounds to start. The app communicated directly with the Hue Smart light.

From a physical setup, we modified a standard drafting table ordered from a drafting supply warehouse. Our creative team designed a graphic meant to give the impression of a blueprint under development laid out on the table top. Where the touch elements were used, we placed icons to indicate the type of content that would be triggered by touch, play button, light bulb, speaker. The graphic was printed as a one piece vinyl decal and applied to the surface of the table.

It seems that you’re really enjoyed the process. What kind of other possibilities are there to explore through this technology?

I’d like to do more with distance sensing and turning objects into sensors. We also do a fair amount of outdoor displays so when I find the time I’d like to work on some all-weather experiments.

Are you planning any other project using Bare Conductive products?

Yes, but I can’t talk about those right now. 😉

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Images and Video: Godfrey