Choosing an input method for interacting with your projects can be a challenge. Many hobbyist projects need little more than a few buttons, a switch or two, or a keypad or keyboard. When you start getting into the realm of robotics, you begin to need something a little more flexible: joysticks, typically, with a variable range of motion to control the speed. A US start-up company has come up with an alternative option: a touch-sensitive surface with an incredible amount of sensitivity. Dubbed the Morph, much of Sensel's demonstrations revolve around its use as a computer input: it can be used by artists to detect and digitise the subtle movements of a paintbrush, by gamers to activate a customised overlay, or by musicians as everything from a drum set to a piano keyboard. The most interesting part of the pitch, however, comes from Sensel's pledge that the devices - currently in prototype form - will support direct connection to microcontrollers like the Arduino. This functionality is wonderfully demonstrated using a MeArm kit from fellow UK Maker Belter Ben Gray, with the user controlling the arm by moving his fingers on the Morph pad. The company has turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise funds to commercialise its technology, and has already easily surpassed its $60,000 goal with more than $234,000 raised so far. More information on the project is available on the Kickstarter campaign page.
The Morph works out of the box with many applications, and it’s also hackable for those more technically-inclined. You can connect it to your computer via USB, to your iPad via Bluetooth, or to your Arduino via developer cables.