PyzoFlex - Details

Today, electronic device are rarely introduced on to the market without a touch-sensitive interface (touchscreen / touchpad). Many of the touchscreens developed for the consumer market are, however, currently generally only available in smaller formats (e.g., smartphones) and do not respond to the pressure of touch. Completely new possibilities for information transmission arise when considering aspects of pressure sensitivity, because, in addition to the finger or stylus position, the pressure of the touch can be used in the interaction.

Other advantages of the ECO-touch technology that has been developed are energy efficiency and cost-effective production. The piezoelectric effect (piezoelectric generators) that is induced with each contact actively generates energy that can be used and recovered. In addition, any flexible (bendable) surfaces can be equipped with the new sensors by screen printing and, thus, become "interactive" and used for a variety of forms of input. Through the use of special materials, the sensors can also be made nearly transparent, so they can be used in combination with OLED or LCD screens. In addition, the flexible, bendable PyzoFlex® sensor technology is a promising input medium for newly emerging flexible displays (e.g., in smartphones, ebook readers, etc.).

Existing touchscreens, known from their inclusion in mobile devices such as the iPhone, do not allow the precise use of multiple fingers simultaneously. Such use of this technology over larger areas would result in considerable energy consumption. Moreover, the ITO commonly used in current touchscreens (indium tin oxide) is a finite and, therefore, expensive resource. For these reasons, despite the high market potential, previously available technologies cannot be used in large-scale input interfaces (e.g., whiteboards) profitably. With the new PyzoFlex® technology, these problems are gone: it does not require indium, is inexpensive due to the use of the screen printing process and can be produced in any size.

This novel technology and the requisite materials have been specifically developed for a printing method and optimized by JOANNEUM RESEARCH during recent years. The Media Interaction Lab at the University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria in Hagenberg provides controls in the form of hardware and software. It developed an electronic readout unit for the sensors and software for the data analysis, which converts the raw sensor signals first into touch information for the control element and later for use in applications. The KEBA AG is responsible for embedding the technology into corresponding application scenarios used in industry.