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High-tech pressure sensitivity for touchscreen mobiles

High-tech pressure sensitivity for touchscreen mobiles

Peratech, a firm based in Yorkshire, has been developing a brand new technology that could allow the mobile phones of the future to have pressure sensitive touchscreen interfaces, opening up a whole new level of interactivity.

Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) is the technical name for the development and the substance that makes pressure sensitivity possible. In very simplified terms, it uses a series of microscopic particles which, when pushed closer together, can detect their proximity and define the pressure thanks to mind-bending quantum theory.

Although pressure sensitivity is not something entirely revolutionary, the fact that QTC switches can be constructed to be no thicker than a hair from your head makes them perfect for use in mobile phones and other portable devices.

Many major mobile phone manufacturers have already applied for licences to use QTC in their mobile phones, with the component manufacturing arm of Samsung being the biggest client to reveal its intentions to date. Peratech is unable to reveal its other clients at this time, but there will doubtlessly be a long list of eager firms looking to take advantage of the technology.

In practice, touchscreens with QTC could allow for mobile phone menu systems to operate on a three dimensional plane, with apps and contacts arranged not on individual flat windows or screens, but in such a way that you could use the pressure of your finger to access the right app without switching between multiple menus.

A slightly more comprehensible application of the new technology could be applied in mobile web browsing, with a firmer touch resulting in faster page scrolling and vice versa.

In an interview with BBC News a spokesperson for Peratech said: "Electronics are being given the ability to sense something that we take for granted, which is how much we're touching and applying force."

The BBC website also hinted at other applications for the technology, including in robotics, in which QTC could be used to provide finger-like pressure sensitivity for androids.

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