Motorola Invests in Touchscreen Technology Specialist

French startup Sensitive Object, a specialist in multitouch anywhere platforms and natural user interface (NUI), gets investment deal with communications giant Motorola.

Wireless communications company Motorola, Inc. announced the company's strategic venture capital arm, Motorola Ventures, made an investment in Sensitive Object, a specialist in multitouch anywhere platforms and natural user interface (NUI). Sensitive Object's Anywhere MultiTouch platform extends tactilization to any surface of a device allowing for virtual controls and next generation user-interfaces.

The company was created in October 2003 with a patent-protected technology capable of "tactilizing" any surface. This software technology leverages acoustics to analyze sound waves departing from the point of a touch to transform any product into a touch device. Sensitive Object's ReverSys software can be deployed in any product benefiting from "touch-based" user interfaces, including touch screen and touch control in various markets such as mobile devices. Sensitive Object is a spin-off from the French Science National Research Centre (CNRS) and received funding from venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners in August 2004. The company has a workforce of more than 20 engineers and has operations in Paris and Singapore.

"Natural user interface (NUI) and in particular interacting with a device through touch is an area of rapid development and great excitement," said Reese Schroeder, managing director, Motorola Ventures. "Sensitive Object provides an innovative and unique approach allowing new ways of interaction. We're most excited to be involved in their growth and success."

The Windows 7 compliant technology also offers handwriting recognition and palm rejection, It can be employed on various materials such as glass, aluminum and plastics and relies on two small piezoelectric sensors, a controller and some software. The technology was discovered through the study of a process known as Time Reversal Mirror, which can be used to precisely identify the source of sound waves. This association is managed by proprietary signal processing algorithms combined with software: a touch at a precise place generates a precise action. A simple glass panel equipped with two piezoelectric sensors is used to detect sound waves and to determine the acoustic signature. If the signature is recognized, the action is operated, if not, nothing happens.

"We are excited to be working closely with the Motorola team. Motorola is a perfect partner for our disruptive touch solution considering Motorola's innovative and successful history with mobile phones," said Herv??« Martin, CEO of Sensitive Object.

Bruno Thuillier, the company's CTO, explained the company's products are currently used in various markets, such as home automation, interactive point of sale or information desks and gaming. "We're now addressing the handheld and consumer markets with new innovative products that will definitely change the way people interact with their devices," he said. "Anywhere MultiTouch may apply to mobile phones, netbooks, laptops, PCs, portable games terminals, and many others."