Touch input is dominantly detected using mutual-capacitance sensing, which measures the proximity of close-by objects that change the electric field between the sensor lines. The exponential drop-off in intensities with growing distance enables software to detect touch events, but does not reveal true contact areas. In this paper, we introduce CapContact, a novel method to precisely infer the contact area between the user's finger and the surface from a single capacitive image. At 8x super-resolution, our convolutional neural network generates refined touch masks from 16-bit capacitive images as input, which can even discriminate adjacent touches that are not distinguishable with existing methods. We trained and evaluated our method using supervised learning on data from 10 participants who performed touch gestures. Our capture apparatus integrates optical touch sensing to obtain ground-truth contact through high-resolution frustrated total internal reflection. We compare our method with a baseline using bicubic upsampling as well as the ground truth from FTIR images. We separately evaluate our method's performance in discriminating adjacent touches. CapContact successfully separated closely adjacent touch contacts in 494 of 570 cases (87%) compared to the baseline's 43 of 570 cases (8%). Importantly, we demonstrate that our method accurately performs even at half of the sensing resolution at twice the grid-line pitch across the same surface area, challenging the current industry-wide standard of a ~4mm sensing pitch. We conclude this paper with implications for capacitive touch sensing in general and for touch-input accuracy in particular.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)