Peratech 'print' smart buttons on any surface

September 22, 2016 // By Junko Yoshida
In an ever expanding virtual world, the next big thing in the human-machine interface is a retro craving, among customers, for haptic feedback. People want a button they can push — physically, forcefully.

Enter the world of Peratech, a company based on North Yorkshire, the U.K.
Peratech, which invented quantum tunneling composites (QTC) materials, is now leveraging its intellectual property to design touch/force-sensing solutions.
QTC applications are not limited to smartphones and tablets which already sport touch screens. Quantum Tunneling can be applied to a variety of control buttons for medical, industrial equipment, game consoles’ joysticks and center-stacks in cars.

Super reconfigurable buttons
With QTC, Peratech CEO Jon Stark said, “We are making a super reconfigurable button that you can push with intent.”


A Single point sensor incorporating Quantum
Tunneling Composite technology. (Photo: EE Times)

QTC is composed essentially of nano-particle materials. QTC changes its electrical resistance based on changes in applied force. Peratech has enabled quantum tunneling by “selecting the precise shape of certain conductive nanoparticles and carefully controlling the processes used to blend them with other particles,” according to the company.

Compared to conventional capacitive touch sensing technology, QTC has a distinct edge. For example, by adding force to touch, “we can eliminate accidental touching, which can happen with capacitive touch,” said Stark. Further, “You can touch the QTC buttons with gloved hands or with any stylus.” Because QTC-enabled touch buttons can also measure force, they add “a level of control, reliability, and range to create a real-world touch experience,” the company explained.