Pressing the Flesh: Sensing Multiple Touch and Finger Pressure on Arbitrary Surfaces

  • Joe Marshall
  • Tony Pridmore
  • Mike Pound
  • Steve Benford
  • Boriana Koleva
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5013)


This paper identifies a new physical correlate of finger pressure that can be detected and measured visually in a wide variety of situations. When a human finger is pressed onto a hard object the flesh is compressed between two rigid surfaces: the surface of the target object and the fingernail. This forces blood out of the vessels in the fingertip, changing its colour slightly, but systematically. The effect is visible to the naked eye and can be measured using techniques from computer vision. As measurements are made of properties of the hand, and not the target surface, multiple-touch and pressure sensing can be added to a range of surfaces - including opaque, transparent, smooth, textured and non-planar examples - without modification of the underlying physical object. The proposed approach allows touch sensing to be fitted to surfaces unsuitable for previous technologies, and objects which cannot be altered, without forfeiting the extra range of expression of pressure sensitivity. The methods involved are simple to set up and low cost, requiring only a domestic-quality camera and a typical computer in order to augment a surface. Two systems which exploit this cue to generate a response to pressure are presented, along with a case study of an interactive art installation contructed using the resulting technology. Initial experiments are reported which suggest that visual monitoring of finger colour will support recogntion of push events.


Target Surface Touch Screen Visual Monitoring Finger Pressure Graphic Tablet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Synaptics Capacitive sensing technical description,
  2. 2.
    Bérard, F.: The magic table: Computer-vision based augmentation of a whiteboard for creative meetings. In: IEEE workshop on Projector-Camera Systems (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Morrison, G.D.: A cmos camera-based man-machine input device for large-format interactive displays. In: SIGGRAPH (2007)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Malik, S., Laszlo, J.: Visual touchpad: A two-handed gestural input device. In: ACM Int. Conference on Multimodel Interfaces (2004)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wilson, A.: Touchlight: An imaging touch screen and display for gesture-based interaction. In: Int. Conf. on Multimodal Interfaces (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wacom Graphics tablets,
  7. 7.
    MagicTouch Touch screens,
  8. 8.
    Synaptics Touch pads,
  9. 9.
    Dietz, P., Leigh, D.: Diamondtouch: A multi-user touch technology. In: UIST (2003)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., van Laerhoven, K., Friday, A., Gellersen, H.W.: Context acquisition based on load sensing. In: Borriello, G., Holmquist, L.E. (eds.) UbiComp 2002. LNCS, vol. 2498, Springer, Heidelberg (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Strickon, J., Paradiso, J.: Tracking hands above large interactive surfaces with a low-cost scanning laser rangefinder. In: CHI (1998)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Han, J.Y.: Low-cost multi-touch sensing through frustrated total internal reflection. In: UIST (2005)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tosas, M., Li, B.: Virtual touch screen for mixed reality. In: Proc. of ECCV Workshop on HCI, (2004)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Benko, H., Wilson, A.D., Baudisch, P.: Precise selection techniques for multi-touch screens. In: CHI (2006)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wigdor, D., Forlines, C., Baudisch, P., Barnwell, J., Shen, C.: Lucidtouch: A see-through mobile device. In: UIST (2007)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    McKenna, S., Gong, S., Raja, Y.: Face recognition in dynamic scenes. In: British Machine Vision Conference (1997)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Yang, J., Fu, Z., Tan, T., Hu, W.: Skin color detection using multiple cues. In: Int. Conference on Pattern Recognition (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zarit, B.D., Super, B.J., Quek, F.K.H.: Comparison of five colour models in skin pixel classification. In: ICCC International Workshop on recognition, analysis and tracking of faces and gestures in Real-Time systems (1999)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Störring, M., Andersen, H.J., Granum, E.: Skin colour detection under changing lighting conditions. In: 7th Symposium on Intelligent Robotics Systems (1999)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joe Marshall
    • 1
  • Tony Pridmore
    • 1
  • Mike Pound
    • 1
  • Steve Benford
    • 1
  • Boriana Koleva
    • 1
  1. 1.Mixed Reality LabUniversity of NottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations