Senseg gets funding for electrostatic touch for smartphones

April 14, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
Senseg Oy (Espoo, Finland), a developer of electrostatically-generated touch feedback for smartphones, has raised $6 million in a Series B round of funding led by NXP Semiconductors NV. The investment included the participation of existing investors Ambient Sound Investments, and Finnvera Venture Capital. This brings the total raised by Senseg to about $12 million.

The company said it intends to use the funds to recruit software and Android application developers, particularly those with mobile game development experience, to help bring its initial product to market.

No timetable was given although Senseg is already running late with the introduction of its products. Back in 2012 Senseg was predicting its technology would be in volume production late in 2013.

Senseg's technology creates a sensation of touch and texture using an electrostatic field to stimulate the fingers when they are close to or in contact with a display surface. By modulating this attractive force on the fingers a variety of sensations can be generated, including textured surfaces, edges, vibrations and 'key' movements without any mechanical movement.

Senseg, founded in 2006 by CTO Ville Makinen, is based on Makinen's PH.D research at Helsinki University of Technology, and is led by CEO Paul Costigan. Costigan is formerly COO with Movidius Ltd. and was previously COO at analog IP developer Chipidea Microelectronica SA and founder and CEO of Massana, a fabless chip compay focused on gigabit Ethernet.

Senseg's technology has potential in smartphones, tablet computers and many other consumer and industrial applications.

"We have focused our R&D on the smartphone market, which requires smaller chip architectures, and more time to properly develop. We are building out our team with software developers who want to help create a new way to interact with the smartphone through a feel-screen experience,” said Costigan, in a statement.

"We are now ready to move forward with this plan to deliver the first production-ready next-generation haptic silicon for the smartphone market," he added.

Mark Hamersma, general manager of emerging business at NXP, said: "We see many high-value opportunities for this technology, not just in mobile, but also in automotive where drivers need to keep their eyes on the road."