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Video: Virtual device button IC begins mass production

12 January 2021

UltraSense Systems, a maker of ultrasonic touch technology, has begun mass production of its system-on-chip (SoC) that enables virtual buttons in smartphones, wearables, home appliances and automobiles.

The TouchPointZ is a chip solution that combines ultrasound and force detection with a signal processing ASIC for a standalone, virtual button. The technology can be used in a variety of different materials such as metals, plastics, glass and veneer materials.

The TouchPointZ sensor SoC measures just 2.6 mm x 1.4 mm x 0.5 mm and is designed to replace mechanical buttons and cutouts in materials up to 5 mm in thickness. The goal is to provide a seamless touch interface devoid of mechanical buttons for a better user experience.

At CES 2021, UltraSense will demonstrate its technology being ported to products beyond the traditional use case for virtual buttons in smartphones. This includes being used for seamless touch on products for healthcare, washing machines, televisions, industrial machinery, internet of things (IoT) products and more.

In wearables, virtual buttons could be used for a new generation of augmented reality (AR) glasses or for gesture control in earpods and headsets. Touch sensing could be used in the smart home for new keyboards without any traditional keys or for turning on lights without traditional switches. This technology incorporated into vehicles might be used to replace capacitive touch lock sensors. In healthcare, virtual buttons are easier to clean and to keep free of viruses and can be used through thick materials such as medical grade gloves.

CES 2021 is all-digital and takes place Jan. 11-14.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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