German researchers believe they can use a technology called "Time Domain Reflectometry" to integrate touch-sensitive objects in clothing, furniture or even cardboard. Time Domain Reflectometry, or TDR for short, has been employed for decades in deep sea cables to detect damages. Electric impulses sent through the cables provide feedback when reflected and the location of damages can be determined depending on the travel time of the signal.
Scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and the Hasso-Plattner-Institute (HPI) in Potsdam said that a similar approach also works over shorter distances, which opens up interactive applications for TDR.
The researchers said that they are currently working on a concept to shrink TDR technology enough to fit it on a computer chip and employ light impulses in a similar way as electric signals are used in deep sea cables. At least in theory, TDR could become a possibly solution for the integration in touch applications on virtually any surface material.