Flexible multi-touch printed sensors ready ahead of screens

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

In collaboration with printed electronics pioneer Plastic Logic, the company will further develop and finalise its flexible touch screen sensor technology for flexible displays.

Dubbed Digital Resistive Area Sensing (DRAS) , the flexible touch screen sensor consists of printed patterns of conductive ink on two polyester substrates laminated together, with wiring patterns crossing at 90º. The touch sensor uses a four-wire sensing circuit elaborated in-house that can be read out by any MCU using the company’s proprietary algorithms.

The sensor is said to overcome capacitive touch screen limitations including breakage, accidental use, moisture and an inability to operate when wearing insulating materials such as gloves.

During a phone interview with eeNews Europe, R&D CORE Ltd’s CEO Thomas Papakostas didn’t want to explicit further the technology, saying that patents are pending and that the actual touch-sensor reading circuitry and scanning procedure are part of the company’s key IP.

“We have designed the sensor’s printed circuits in a such a way that they work with any type of conductive inks available on the market”, told us Papakostas, “not only can we scan multiple touch-points at the same time, we can also scan the contact area and measure the applied force up to approximately a kilogram”.

Force sensing is based on experimental data from the laminate’s deformation and resistive response.

“We have prototyped our flexible sensor behind a flexible screen from Plastic Logic and it just works as a charm”, said Papakostas, hinting at the limitations of too brittle ITO solutions. “The touch sensor still worked when the display was flexed back and forth or rolled up to a diameter of around 4cm”.

According to Papakostas, the sensor can also be made as large as the application requires without increasing the complexity of the hardware interface and without compromising the sensor performance.

Although the company wants to grab the nascent flexible display market with its DRAS technology, in the short term it expects more revenue from conformable touch-interfaces including white goods and consumer electronics or large scale interactive touch-surfaces.

“We have a demo kit that allows us to quickly deliver customized solutions to our partners, under a non-disclosure agreement. But until the big companies sort out their high-volume yield issues for flexible displays, we won’t be able to disclose who is working with us or trying out our technology” Papakostas concluded.

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