LONDON Peratech Ltd. (Richmond, UK) has signed a licensing agreement for its Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) technology, which will be included within a new range of pressure sensing components from Samsung Electro-mechanics (Seoul, Korea).
The license is for the use of Peratech’s QTC switches in 5-way input devices, or Navikeys, made by Samsung Electro-mechanics that are used for menu navigation and interaction on mobile phones.
These devices are traditionally made using dome switches that allow current to flow when depressed giving a simple on/off operation. By replacing the dome switches with switches made from force sensitive QTC, the resulting input device is now pressure sensitive so that as more pressure is applied to the switch, more current flows.
This proportional input design will enable the speed of scrolling through a list or the speed of movement in a game to be varied depending on how hard the switch is pressed, making interaction faster and more intuitive.
“This is a very significant step for Peratech and we are delighted Samsung EM has chosen our QTC technology,” said Philip Taysom, joint CEO of Peratech. “It is a huge testament to the power and potential of QTC technology to not only replace traditional switches with more reliable switches but to also add new functionality so that better, more innovative products can be created with enhanced user interaction.
Taysom added that “a Navikey using QTC from Samsung EM is already being used into a tier 1 mobile phone.”
Dr. Ho-Chul Joung, Principal Manager at Samsung EM, said “The pressure sensitivity of the QTC switches changes the game when it comes to human machine interface design enabling truly 3D user interfaces to be created in small, low power devices. This three-dimensionality cannot be matched with existing resistive and capacitive technologies and means that the next generation of mobile phones will have many new and exciting features because of it.”
QTC's are electro-active polymeric materials made from metallic or non-metallic filler particles combined in an elastomeric binder. These enable the action of 'touch' to be translated into an electrical reaction, enabling a vast array of devices to incorporate very thin and highly robust 'sensing' of touch and pressure.
QTC switches and switch matrices can be screen printed allowing for development and integration of switches that are as thin as 75 microns.
QTC is also low power and interfaces can be designed with no start resistance so that without pressure, the switch draws no power and passes no current. When pressure is applied, the resistance drops in proportion to the amount of pressure which allows sophisticated human machine interface designs that react to variations in pressure.
QTC technology has no moving parts and requires no air gap between contacts improving reliabilits and making it suitable for integration into thin electronic designs.
Already widely used in robotics and defence, Peratech commercialized its QTC technology at the beginning of 2006. QTC materials have been used by organisations such as NASA, ILC Dover, Shadow Robotics and numerous government agencies.