LONDON, UK - Based on its recent analysis of touch technology for flexible electronics market, Frost & Sullivan recognises Nanomade Concept SAS with the 2013 European Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation Leadership. Nanomade's novel technology demonstrates multipoint touch that is characterised by force sensing and bend sensing on a flexible substrate that utilises just a single fully transparent sensor. This technology has substantial short-term potential in niche market segments, such as smart watches, curved dashboard screens for the automotive industry, but in the longer term, Nanomade plans to commercialise it in the mass consumer electronics segment on flexible displays.
Nanomade's ability to convert a flexible substrate into a touch- and force-sensitive surface stems from the differentiating nanoparticle layer. The tactile solution relies on a network of printed nanoparticle-based resistive strain gauges; when networked, these strain gauges form a highly sensitive pressure sensor that can be laminated directly onto a flexible substrate. The application of pressure to the surface modifies the electrical response of the gauge network, and these changes in electric response allow force and bend sensing of the surface, resulting in multipoint touch technology.
As displays become rollable, bendable, and curved, manufacturers are increasingly looking for robust and yet, cost-effective technologies. The application scope of this technology is expected to extend far beyond mobile phones to cover products as varied as watches and automobiles, as the technology offers native multipoint force sensing, regardless of the size or application of the touch screen.
"Nanomade delivers solution that is compatible with the manufacturers' needs," said Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Archana Srinivasan. "Its affordable touch technology offers high sensitivity, is fully compatible with gloved or gloveless operations, and consumes low power."
The company has developed strategic partnerships with world-class research institutes in France such as the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS-CNRS) and the National Institute for Applied Sciences (INSA) in order to leverage public research innovation to target mass market industries. As an example, the automotive industry is emerging as a particularly lucrative space, since automotive manufacturers are seeking innovative ways to deliver infotainment systems. Apart from curved dashboards, Nanomade's technology could fit into cushions or the back side of a car seat, without diminishing their aesthetic appeal.
Furthermore, since the technology supports multi-touch sensing on flexible substrates, it can be easily integrated into wearable electronics. Nanomade illustrates this ability as a MP3 playback control system or a pulse monitoring system incorporated onto smart watches wristbands.
"Choosing low-cost raw materials such as nanoparticles enables the company to deliver a low-cost, customised, touch technology," noted Archana Srinivasan. "Since the technology uses a roll-to roll manufacturing process, Nanomade is able to deliver efficient but affordable touch panels on a flexible substrate."
As the company invests in the development of innovative printed electronics processes, it intends to leverage its intellectual property portfolio by developing a solution that can adapt itself to the needs of the flexible electronics industry.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated uniqueness in developing a technology, which significantly impacts both the functionality and the customer value of new products and applications. The award lauds the relevance of the innovation to the industry.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.