Tiny Ultrasound Sensor Enables Touch Through Any Material

By Mat Dirjish

Coming out of the fog, UltraSense Systems unveils what it is touting as the “world’s first and smallest ultrasound sensor that enables touch sensing through virtually any material and any thickness.” Measuring 1.4 mm x 2.4 mm x 0.49 mm, the sensor is said to be immune to moisture, dirt, oils, and lotions, and works through any material and thickness, i.e., metal, glass, wood, ceramic, plastic, etc.

Dubbed the TouchPoint ultrasound sensor, the component offers many design opportunities that include:

  • Removal of mechanical buttons from smartphones to support new industrial designs required for millimeter wave 5G phones.
  • One-hand selfie operation with a multi-functional touch user interface on the backside of the smartphone.
  • Gaming buttons and photo-taking keys seamlessly built into the sides of smartphones.
  • Touch interface or slider in wearable devices like watches, earbuds, or AR/VR glasses.
  • A ubiquitous touch user interface across home appliance products that use a variety of thick materials from stainless steel, glass, plastics and ceramics.
  • The ability to open or lock your car door with a simple touch of the metal chrome plated door handle.
  • Virtual buttons located in the steering wheel center and door panels using solid surfaces that are easy to clean in ride-sharing and shared vehicles.

Consuming current in the µA range, TouchPoint sensors are designed to operate independent of a product’s host processor with all the algorithm processing embedded in the sensor. Using 3D Z-force ultrasound sensing provides gram-force measurement in applications that require gloves, external covers/cases, and water/ice rejection.

For applications where low power consumption is not a requirement, certain TouchPoint sensors include large drivers with higher operating voltages to transmit the ultrasound beam through very thick materials of solid metal (e.g. >25 mm/1 in.) and beyond. The transducer can also be shut off and the sensor used to drive piezo materials.

For more details, visit UltraSense. And to access all the news and information you need to make your design job easier, sign up for Sensors Daily Newsletters. It’s free, fast, and incredibly easy. For a media kit and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Michael Mitchell via email at michael@sensorsdaily.com.