Motorola Invests in Acoustic Multi-Touch Company

Motorola announced this week that they have invested in a multi-touch company named Sensitive Object. This startup company is working on a new form of multi-touch using "acoustic tactilization" that is said to offer "lower cost and higher performance" than competing technologies. Motorola plans on using the technology in their phones in the future.

Sensitive Object first revealed their technology back in April. The new system uses sound waves to provide touch-sensitivity to the entire surface of products, including screens but also any other parts of the product. Materials such as glass, aluminum and plastics can be turned into touch sensitive objects.

This new platform provides flexibility to designers, manufacturers and software editors as Sensitive Object technology offers the capability to add multi-touch parts anywhere, and associated functionality specific to running applications (e.g.: a game application running on a mobile phone uses both the top, bottom, or rear of the handset as touch sensitive parts; while an email application only needs one edge to scroll the text).

The flexibility is intriguing with the possibility of having a device like the iPhone with touch-sensitive inputs on the back-side of the device. Apple explored this exact possibility in a patent application from 2007, though it was unclear what technology they planned on using. This acoustic touch technology could presumably also be extended to the surfaces of notebook computers. The amount of Motorola's investment is unknown.

Apple, of course, has invested heavily in multi-touch technologies over the past few years featuring it prominently in the iPhone and iPod Touch. They have since extended its use to laptop trackpads and most recently into the Magic Mouse, a multi-touch mouse. Apple is expected to feature multi-touch prominently in their rumored tablet and there has been speculation that they may revive some sort of multi-touch keyboard/pad.

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