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Could Apple propel NextInput to fame?

Posted: 05 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NextInput? Apple? sensor? MEMS? iPhone?

Founded in 2012, NextInput Inc. could be the latest MEMS sensor company to be catapulted to fame and fortune by design wins, thanks Apple.

NextInput has started shipping its "ForceTouch" sensor and Apple's iPhone 6s or will it be iPhone 7 is expected to debut in September with a feature called Force Touch. Add to that the fact that the company has just imported a CEO from Apple supplier InvenSense and circumstantial evidence starts to favour NextInput.


InvenSense was one of the design slot winners in the Apple iPhone 6 last September.

Could this be a case of Apple asking the startup to install an experienced executive as CEO to make sure they can handle a sudden ramp to 10s of millions of units? According to the Wall Street Journal Apple is asking for its contract manufacturers and suppliers to make 85 million and 90 million units of two new iPhone models with 4.7in and 5.5in displays by Dec. 31, 2015.

NextInput was founded as a spin-off from Georgia Institute of Technology to commercialise a pressure-sensitive sensor technology. The company said multiple sensors can be placed under a display surface or track pad and offer a lower-cost solution that also consumes less power when compared with capacitive touch.

Next Input's ForceTouch can also sense multipoint touch can sense the location and amount of force from each touch point down to sub-mm spatial resolution, and sub-millinewton force resolution.

NextInput said it has just begun sampling its FT4010F ForceTouch sensor with software and algorithms to enable 1D, 2D and 3D touch control. The good news is that NextInput can be looking at selling between four and six sensor per piece of equipment.

However, it may not be such a rapid ramp for NextInput as the company could already be designed into the Apple Watch and certain versions of the MacBook, where the pressure sensitive technology allows software to differentiate between a light tap and a deep press and respond accordingly.

Interestingly InvenSense has exemplar art work for all three use cases: the laptop computer, the smartphone and the smartwatch.

Cambridge Touch Technologies Ltd is a startup aiming at the same design slots but as that company was founded in 2014 it feels like it would be a little too young to have proven its technology to the satisfaction of a consumer giant such as Apple.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times Europe

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