3D touchscreens? Why Samsung think pressure-sensitive screens are the next big thing

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In an exciting move, Samsung Electro-Mechanics have just purchased a technology called Quantum Tunnelling Composite or QTC that brings third dimension to touch screens. Samsung claims that QTC will allow devices like phones to accept 3D input – by being pressure sensitive.

Press hard on the scroll button and the page moves faster, softer, and it goes more slowly. In games you can move faster if you press harder, ease the pressure and you slow down. It’s a technology that makes touch screen use more intuitive and has lots of potential.

Made by a Yorkshire based company called Peratech, Samsung Electro-Mechanics will build the new technology into mobile touchscreens to create pressure-sensitive phones. Because they sell phone components to a wide range of manufacturers, we could see this across a whole generation of new phones. Apparently it is already being built into a “Tier One” phone right now. We’re not sure what yet, but we’ll let you know.

Current resistive touchscreen devices such as the Blackberry have a simple on/off operation: allowing current to flow when a dome-shaped button under the screen is depressed.

Peratech have replaced the button with force-sensitive material called QTC – this makes the screen into one pressure sensitive switch: the more pressure is applied to the switch, the more current flows. Clever hey?

In the new phones a layer of this material will be embedded under the screen – I guess you can think of it as a kind of sponge that forces more current through the more it is compressed.

Not all touchscreens are resistive – ie have this button underneath them; some are capactive – the iPhone for example. You don’t need to press the screen in on the iPhone, you just have to lay your finger on it. It works on an tiny electric current being passed through your skin, which is why you can’t use your iPhone when you have gloves on.

Samsung Electro Mechanics think the new technology will be a game-changer:
“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” said Dr. Ho-Chul Joung, Principal Manager at Samsung EM.

“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.”

See more about QTC at peratech.com

Anna Leach

One thought on “3D touchscreens? Why Samsung think pressure-sensitive screens are the next big thing

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