SBIR Phase I: Organic Field Effect Transistor Force Sensor for Touch Surfaces

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

NextInput, Inc.
75 5th Street NW, Suite 206
Atlanta, GA 30308
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to develop a force sensitive touch surface technology that will overcome the technical shortcomings of currently available technologies. The design leverages the thin form factor, optical transmissivity, and cost advantages of organic printed electronics in a novel configuration to allow for environmentally stable, active-array touch surfaces and displays to be produced with scalable manufacturing techniques. The solution is intended to enable truly force sensitive touch that is low cost and highly sensitive. It will be operable with any object, including fingernails, gloves, and styluses, while not being susceptible to environmental factors that hinder current capacitive technologies, such as dirt and moisture. If successfully developed it will consume less power than leading technologies, and will not inherently require special materials such as glass to be used as the touch surface. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project results from its relevance to a wide array of applications, including force sensitive buttons for consumer electronics, automotive controls, and force sensitive displays for fixed and mobile devices. Two decades ago, touch technology was primarily found within ATMs and point-of-sale systems. More recently, the technology migrated to other electronic industry verticals, including one of the largest and certainly the fastest growing - smartphones and tablets. Consumer demand is driving an explosion of applications in every vertical. There is increasing demand for low cost, low power, more feature rich touch solutions. In addition, new user experience benefits such as force sensitivity are constantly being pursued, yet there is no viable solution yet on the market. Such a technology would be poised to capture significant market share from existing technologies in all of these markets.