The ultrasound sensor can overcome challenges associated with mechanical design, including the thickness of the material, integration complexity and production calibration time.
FREMONT, CA: Technology advancements have led to the vast application of sensors by utilizing touch sensing as an interface. There is a huge shift in the way we interact with our devices with the acceleration in the move to virtual buttons and surface gestures. Recently, a startup has developed an ultrasound-based sensing technology for touch user interfaces. The new technology can allow the creation of a touch interface through virtually any material like metal, wood, glass, ceramic and plastic of varied thickness. It can turn any surface into a virtual button or gesture cost-effectively. The technology will be incorporated into several consumer and industrial devices in 2020. This enables OEMs to bring a delightful user experience with a wide range of touch and gesture functions.
While technologies like strain gauge, surface acoustic wave solutions and force touch have extensive industrial and mechanical design restrictions including the thickness of the material, integration complexity and production calibration time, use of ultrasound can overcome the challenges mentioned above. The technology will allow OEMs to eliminate mechanical buttons from smartphones; this, in turn, facilitates new industrial designs for next-generation 5G phones. Further, technology can enable touch interfaces or sliders on wearable devices and home appliances. Another potential application is virtual buttons located in the steering wheel centre and door panels using solid-state surfaces that are easy to clean in ride-sharing and shared vehicles.
The technology can address smartphone, consumer/IoT, automotive and industrial user interface requirements. The sensors utilized are contained in tiny packages consuming only milliamps of current in an always-on mode that are designed in a way to operate without depending on a product’s host processor containing all the algorithm processing embedded in the sensor.
Besides, it can be used as a standalone power button, volume control, or shortcut keys for wake-on-touch sensing, by powering on the entire product with a simple touch. They can also form multi-functional user interfaces using a series of holds, taps, and swipes. Also, the sensors can be directly interfaced with power management and haptic driver ICs.
In applications that don’t require low power consumption; some Touchpoint sensors will include large drivers with higher operating voltages to transmit the ultrasound beam through very thick solid metal.
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