Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute and Disney Research found that they could make walls "smart" at relatively low cost — about $20 per square meter —using simple tools and techniques, such as a paint roller, to make them interactive.

These new capabilities might enable users to place or move light switches or other controls anywhere on a wall that’s most convenient, or to control videogames by using gestures. By monitoring activity in the room, this system could adjust light levels when a TV is turned on or alert a user in another location when a laundry machine or electric kettle turns off.

“Walls are usually the largest surface area in a room, yet we don’t make much use of them other than to separate spaces, and perhaps hold up pictures and shelves,” said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in CMU’s HCII. “As the internet of things and ubiquitous computing become reality, it is tempting to think that walls can become active parts of our living and work environments.”

Learn more: Paint Job Transforms Walls Into Sensors, Interactive Surfaces

Link to Project