DIY: Playing with (Large) Multi-Touch SurfacesIn Electronics
An FTIR (short for Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) setup involves three vital components: a sheet of transparent acrylic, a chain of infrared LEDs, and a camera with an IR filter. The LEDs are arranged around the outside of the sheet of acrylic so that they shine directly into the thin side surfaces.
Once the IR light is inside the acrylic, it strikes the top and bottom surfaces of the acrylic at a near-parallel angle, and is subject to the effect known as total internal reflection. This causes it to be wholly maintained in the acrylic. This is a little tough to describe in words, so we’ve made a simple diagram:
The net effect of the setup described above is a sheet of acrylic full of internally reflecting infrared light. When a finger is pressed against the acrylic, it causes some of the light to be reflected down, through the acrylic and into the cabinet, where it is detected by the webcam. This effect, called frustrated total internal reflection is a little complicated, and involves something called an evanescent wave, but you don’t really need to understand why it happens, just that it does happen, as illustrated in this diagram:
The webcam, which has been modified to detect only infrared light, sees this reflected light as white spots on the screen; Catch the community for developers at Natural User Interface Group.