Pressure point sensors heading to Smartphones

by Nicole on June 8, 2016

One of the first thing a Smartphone reviewer will do after looking a phone up and down is to push the buttons to see if they have a cheap feeling or sound. The tactile feeling of pushing a button done right can make a product go from average to luxury, Uneo imagines a without buttons. Imagine simply pressing on the metal frame of a smartphone equals pressing a button.

Pressure sensor’s aren’t new, but we haven’t seen many companies pushing to replace Smartphone buttons with them. The single point pressure sensors that we took a look at can be printed into a wide range of materials from fabric to plastic.  What we are looking at is a Micro-Deformable Piezoresistive Sensor, which is developed for force sensing applications. The sensor is able to detect a light finger swipe or forces of up to 300psi.


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If we hoped to see this type of technology appear in handsets it is most likely that the sensor will be encased in plastic before it’s placed under the metal.  Since they have yet to land a client brave enough to forgo the traditional button they couldn’t give me an specifics on how thick or thin the metal would be. Without any prototyping available it’s hard to tell if the overall durability of the handset would be reduced or if the manufacturer would have to make the metal thinner at all.

If we were to see this technology emerge in handsets the manufacturer would definately have to create a textured finish to let us know where the buttons are.  I’m constantly using my phone by touch alone spinning it around looking for the buttons to know which was is up or down.  All though, I do have to admit that a buttonless phone feels very futuristic and it’s definitely something that I would be keen to test out.

What do you think, do you want pressure sensitive buttons rather than physical or capacitive ones?