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New Pressure-Sensitive Touch Panel Tech Pairs Well with Flexible Displays

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Jan 10, 2019, 11:39 AM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome
updated Jan 10, 2019, 11:53 AM

There's a new touch panel technology in town, and it's coming to next year's phones with flexible displays. Sensel makes touch panels that have the precision and multi-touch capability of today's capacitive touch technology, but are better suited to the flexible displays coming to phones this year and next. Sensel touch panels can can measure the amount of pressure applied, and work perfectly underwater. Sensel is working with two different companies to launch phones with this technology in 2020, one with a bending display, and one with a fixed, curved display.

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I checked out a demo device and the technology works as advertised.

It does require some pressure to activate; right now about 2 grams, but the company expects to get that down to 1g very soon. That is a very small amount of pressure. Even on the demo device with 2g sensitivity, almost all of my light touches registered. I had to really try to getting a touch to not register. But it was possible. That means it may take a little adjustment if you're used to using the very lightest touch when you swipe the screen.

However, the ability to measure pressure has a distinct advantage: that makes it much easier for a phone to reject unintentional taps and swipes on secondary displays that, say, wrap around the sides and back of a phone. Using this technology, the whole phone — even the sides — can be touchscreen. The right software paired with this panel can tell when you're trying to interact with the sides or back, versus simply holding the phone.

Check out this video to see Sensel tech in action:

About the author, Rich Brome:

Editor in Chief Rich became fascinated with cell phones in 1999, creating mobile web sites for phones with tiny black-and-white displays and obsessing over new phone models. Realizing a need for better info about phones, he started Phone Scoop in 2001, and has been helming the site ever since. Rich has spent two decades researching and covering every detail of the phone industry, traveling the world to tour factories, interview CEOs, and get every last spec and photo Phone Scoop readers have come to expect. As an industry veteran, Rich is a respected voice on phone technology of the past, present, and future.

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