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Tactonic expands touch screen technology to the floor

A New York City start-up called Tactonic Technologies has revolutionized the computer touch sensor, making them tough enough and cheap enough to turn an entire floor, maybe an entire gym or theme park into a surface that senses footsteps.

 

They say the walls have ears. But what if the floors could feel where you are walking and how you are walking? A New York City start-up called Tactonic Technologies has revolutionized the computer touch sensor, making them tough enough and cheap enough to turn an entire floor, maybe an entire gym or theme park into a surface that senses footsteps.

"It can be tiled, so we can take two sensors and seamlessly butt them together, and make a sensor twice as big," says Gerry Seidman, Tactonic's Chief Executive Officer. "In fact you can cover the entire area of a room."

Tactonic's technology can track people as they move through spaces, such as airports or shopping malls. The sensors can also detect more subtle balance and pressure information, which the company hopes to apply to the medical and physical therapy fields.

"We can tell about the posture, whether [a person is] improving in their therapy or maybe detect Parkinson's disease," says Seidman, who adds that the sensors are superior in some ways to video recording devices. "If you are getting ready to take a step, you telegraph to the floor that you are going to take a step, even before a camera could pick it up."

Click on the audio player above to hear more about Tactonic, its founding and its future. And tell us: How would you use a touch sensitive floor?

 

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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My husband and I have long thought that this kind of technology would be great for football, with sensors inside the ball so refs know exactly where it lands, as opposed to the seemingly arbitrary results from measuring with chains. Not an earth-shaking,humanity-improving use, but hey, it's just an idea.

I agree this would be fantastic for physical therapy and also for athletes and workout people honing dance or yoga moves or sports like tennis. It would be amazing information for detectives hunting clues in investigations. I can envision a yoga mat with this technology that would help perfect postures. Really fascinating.

I would put them on the floors of apartments that have a tenant below. When a tenant walks too hard, an alarm goes off in the walker's apartment to let them know they might be disturbing the tenant underneath them. There are few things worse than an upstairs neighbor that appears to play basketball in their apartment each morning.

The saloon example could be tweaked for something more in the public interest. If the sensors detect a really unsteady gait, patrons could be tagged before they get behind the wheel.

I think this would be great for returning wounded warriors who have missing limbs for rehab. I work in San Antonio and was able to tour CFI-the Center for the Intrepid, the rehab center. CFI is doing amazing things, but this would be a great benefit on top of all the good work they do.

http://www.bamc.amedd.army.mil/departments/orthopaedic/cfi/

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