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The "Smart Surface" turns any flat surface into a tap-sensitive one, according to its Filipino inventors. Image Credit: Supplied / DOST

Dubai: Can you convert a flat surface — like a blank wall — into an interactive, tap-sensitive one?

A group of Filipino inventors think they have an effective, affordable solution.

Researchers at the University of the Philippines (UP) Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI) in Diliman, a suburb of Manila, have created a device that claims to turn a flat surface, or blank wall, into an "interactive" screen, a report stated.

Dubbed as the "Smart Surface" technology, it was developed by Dr. Nestor Tiglao and his team, according to the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The system, it was claimed, turns any flat surface into a clickable, tap-sensitive display. EEEI forms part of the UP system, the state-owned academic institution that seeks to ramp up work on commercialising such projects.

However, compared to its neighbours, including Taiwan, the Philippines is notoriously weak in linking up researchers with industry to lessen lag time in churning out new technologies from research labs.

The country's patent system is also just developing, while local venture capitalists that sink money into new potential distruptors are few and far between.

Now, the UP researchers behind "Smart Surface" are taking things into their own hands.

The new wall-screen system is reportedly about to hit the market, thanks to a tech spinoff, called Adapsense Inc, that came up with the first commercial product from the lab.

The report did not give details on how the technology works — just that the system converts virtually any flat surface into an interactive display. It didn't say whether it also works on glass or rough concrete call.

Its creators described the system as "portable, easy to install, and affordable, with speedy after-sales support in cases of replacement, repair services, or technical help."

The University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City
The University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, in northern Metro Manila. Image Credit: File

But the potential use cases for this whizbang gear, said its creators, could be plenty — in education, food service, advertising and consumer electronics.

Content can be customised according to user preference, they added.

The report said that Smart Surface offers unique features such as multi-touch and wireless connectivity.

The project is one of the beneficiaries of government research funding, called FASTRAC  — Funding Assistance for Spin-Off and Translation of Research for Advancing Commercialization — program.

The program is bankrolled by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), an agency under the DOST.


The agency helped the group develop an industrial-grade prototype, do pilot tests and market validation.

The research group is understood to have secured product certification, and are currently marketing the technology to potential local clients, initially, with an eye on exports.

Adapsense Inc has also reportedly signed technology licensing agreement with still-unnamed industrial partner.

A software application is also used with Smart Surface, enabling users to design interactive content such as quizzes and customer surveys, or interactive product displays.

In April 2018, the reseach team was honoured with a gold medal (with jury distinction) at the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva (Geneva Inventions).

The Philippine has an Intellectual Property Code, Republic Act (RA) 8293, signed in 1997.

The law was amended by RA 10372, signed in 2015, which then created the Philippine Intellectual Property Office (PhilIPO).

The new law also mandates schools and universities to adopt intellectual property policies, to safeguard intellectual creations.

It's not immediately clear whether or not the Smart Surface's creators have applied for or received a patent certificate for their technology with the relevant authorities.

Patents in the Philippines
An invention patent is a government-issued grant, bestowing an exclusive right to an inventor over a product or process that provides any technical solution to a problem in any field of human activity which is new, inventive, and industrially applicable.

A patent is defined as an exclusive right that allows the inventor to exclude others from making, using, or selling the product of his invention during the life of the patent.

Patent owners may also give permission to, or license, other parties to use their inventions on mutually agreed terms. Owners may also sell their invention rights to someone else, who then becomes the new owner of the patent.