SigmaSense partners with NXP to transform touch interfaces

SigmaSense announced a co-development and license agreement with NXP Semiconductors to create a new type of multidimensional sensing technology to revolutionize user experiences.

Austin, Texas-based SigmaSense has licensed the technology to NXP, and the companies will collaborate on high-performance sensing products for specific applications with demands for faster, more robust and fully immersive software-defined experiences.

NXP recently said invested $35 million in the first tranche of a SigmaSense Series B financing.

“The next generation of smart devices and applications demand data for enhanced functionality
that requires a completely new software programmable approach to detection,” said Lars Reger, CTO of NXP
Semiconductors, in a statement. “SigmaSense created a breakthrough in sensing technology with an innovative approach that makes new and exciting product designs possible. We are delighted to partner with SigmaSense to bring about a new era of NXP solutions.”

SigmaSense innovations make it possible to extract much more data from the physical world for a wide range of products and systems. Multi-dimensional sensing works across many different surfaces, shapes, and materials, enabling designs that were previously impossible.

SigmaSense drives a 3D polymer touch technology.

“NXP’s prowess in highly reliable products and deep experience in high-volume semiconductor design combined with SigmaSense technology will accelerate game-changing sensing products,” said Rick Seger, CEO of SigmaSense, in a statement. “Our joint development with NXP marks the transition to a universe of new data-centric design options driven by software-defined sensing.”

With the invention of direct-to-digital current measurement, SigmaSense offers low-voltage frequency domain sensing, an industry first. Fast, continuous, high-fidelity data capture with intelligent digital signal processing moves analog challenges into the digital domain, where design flexibility can deliver orders of magnitude improvements.

SigmaSense is switching system designs from folding screens to EV batteries.

SigmaSense features high-performance, low-power touch technology.
SigmaSense features high-performance, low-power touch technology.

Founded in 2016, SigmaSense invented a foundational technology that transforms the interactions between digital systems and the physical world, ushering in a new era of radically improved digital sensing. SigmaSense software-defined sensing achieves breakthrough levels of speed, accuracy, resolution, and noise immunity previously thought impossible for sensing systems. The company has 70 people and has raised $93 million to date.

Asked what the inspiration for the company was, Seger said in an email to GamesBeat: “The founders of SigmaSense have deep roots in the tablet and touch industry with pioneering companies Wacom and N-trig, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2015. Looking to the future horizon, the founders turned their attention to examining how to improve detection in a number of markets. The vision included a particular interest in enabling superior pen and touch to serve education with the benefits of widespread access to digitally captured handwriting. Ultimately, the team’s R&D efforts led to a radical improvement in the detection system to meet the new superior data requirements of high-performance processing systems.”

By sensing through noise, SigmaSense products increase the depth and amount of data that can be captured from the physical world to enable exciting new experiences across a wide range of devices, including mobile, automotive, battery sensing, digital signage, portable devices and all sizes of IoT Touch Screens. SigmaSense is funded by strategic investors including NXP, Foxconn, LG-MRI, E ink, Corning and GIS.

When asked about the importance of technology, Seger said: “All systems are based on a cycle of sense, process and reaction that shapes the user experience. The key is how fast the cycle can occur with high-quality data. Today, the quality and speed of extracting data from the physical world is becoming as important, if not more so, than processing performance. High-quality, deep data mining opens up new markets and accelerates innovation for HMI products. Significantly, the shift from fixed analog device detection to software-defined detection offers greater programmability and flexibility essential for innovation.”

Seger noted that examples include 3D-sensing game boards, object recognition, and multiplayer identification of who’s playing at high-performance speeds. No amount of processing power can achieve the speed requirements of the detection, processing and reaction cycle if it cannot extract the detected information at an equally high speed, she said.

He also said that, for batteries, the technology would create the ability to detect and prevent thermal runaway by measuring the impedance of the battery, which would provide better-informed information about state of charge and health. And he said we’ll see high-performance, reliable-touch, foldable mobile device experiences with thinner materials, operation in rain and snow, and with gloves.

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