ITP Camp 2017

Make Everything Feel: Really Simple Touch / Proximity Sensors From Natural Objects

Session Leaders: Andy Quitmeyer

Tags: #capacitive touch #captouch #ADC captouch

Created By: Andy Quitmeyer

Plug 1 wire into your arduino, clip it to something kinda conductive ( a plant, a puddle, or a bike handle). and that's all you need for interactive projects! .Capacitive Touch sensing is one of the simplest, and most fun ways to make almost anything in the world into a touch sensitive controller! This is how things like touch lamps work, and the basic sensing in fun kits like the Makey Makey:

However, most folks tend to start their capacitive touch sensing projects using (what I consider) outdated methods. Old-fashioned captouch tends to be noisy, needing constant recalibration, and really only works well when the electronics are grounded. It also tends to give best readings on just a binary "Touched or not" kind of basis. Most importantly old style cap-touch tends to use a minimum of 2 wires and a big resistor to make your interaction work.

Using ADC captouch, instead frees us from so many problems, and gives us the smallest amount of materials necessary to make cool interesting sensors! Places like Hackteria started looking to this method as an improvement over the Makey Makey (, and we can talk about the basic theory while we make them!


First we will start off building and programming our devices. Then we will move outdoors and test out and explore the touch-sensitive properties of many items in nature and public areas nearby. Debugging with cap-touch is fun and lets you explore the material properties of whatever you connect it to. Toward the end, we will refine our projects into interesting interactive demos for public interaction.


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Kathleen judge June 1, 2017, 3:39 pm

Very interested in this

Kate Yourke June 3, 2017, 10:07 am

Really interested, but not available on June 10, sob