Peratech and Nissha bring 3D input to phone screens

A whole new way of controlling mobile phones is just around the corner according to specialist Brit outfit, Peratech. Essentially the company claims it can add ‘pressure’ as a third dimension. Not sure that referring to this as ‘3D input’ is such a good idea, though.

Pertech is behind a technology which it has previously referred to as “curious grey stuff” but is generally known as Quantum Tunnelling Composites (QTC).

So why is pressure a good thing? Imagine you’re looking at Google Maps on your smartphone. The harder you press, the more you will zoom in.

According to Philip Taysom, joint CEO of Peratech, that kind of facility isn’t possible with today’s capacitive matrix screens. But software developers need to understand the capabilities so that the GUI can benefit, for example.

You could increase the speed of scrolling through a big list of options, for example, by pressing a lot harder.”Previously screens had just an X and a Y, now they have a Z,” Taysom observed.

Taysomalso  hinted that QTC technology has been incorporated into at least one handset (being announced at MWC Barcelona). Instead of being built into the screen, it will be used by the navigation buttons on the handset.

There’s one other benefit. It can save energy. The screen doesn’t have to be continually powered to respond to touch. It can switch itself off after 30 seconds for example and only revive when it feels pressure again.

Given that Peratech’s product is basically IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), the firm hasn’t previously been able to say who’s using it. Particularly when asked if Apple is a customer.

Now it’s able to announce that Japanese touchscreen producer, Nissha, has signed an exclusive licence to build screens with QTC inside.

To be exclusive the screens have to be smaller than 3.5 by 5.5 inches. Which pretty well covers most smartphones and PDAs.

Just like motion sensors were seized upon by games developers to give an extra edge, QTC’s benefits will probably be best experienced when playing the very latest games.