It is taking forever, but at some point we will all go back to a new version of normal retailing and other routine, day-to-day activities. That will also mean a return of interesting in simple but effective things like interactive merchandising.
A Silicon Valley startup, UltraSense Systems, is a CES 2021 virtual exhibitor this week, and busily trying to gain attention for its ultrasound-driven touch technology.
The core idea is to use a 3D ultrasound sensor system-on-chip (SoC) system to take the place of mechanical buttons in merchandising and information points. The sensor can be embedded below or behind materials up to 5mm in thickness.
So the act of asking to learn more about a product on the screen tied in with merchandising could be done off a strip of metal, plastic, glass or veneer material that looks like the balance of the fixture.
This is the sort of thing that will intrigue retail design and point of purchase fixture people.
The company is shipping mass production parts of its TouchPoint Z (USZ-10000) 3D ultrasound touch user interface solution to smartphone and consumer product manufacturers who will release their virtual button-enabled products to the market in the coming months. TouchPoint Z is a 3D ultrasound sensor system-on-chip (SoC) that combines ultrasound and Z-Force detection with a signal processing ASIC for a complete, standalone, virtual button mounted under different metals, plastics, glass and a variety of veneer materials. Measuring just 2.6mm x 1.4mm x 0.5mm (LxWxH), the TouchPoint Z sensor SoC is designed to replace mechanical buttons and cutouts in materials up to 5mm in thickness for a seamless touch user interface.
At CES 2021, UltraSense Systems will demonstrate several of its latest releases to scale its technology for customer adoption across various markets including automotive, home appliances, smartphones and smart wearable devices (AR, watches, earbuds, etc.). Customers are invited to learn about product updates, advancements, evaluation kits and a smart surface demonstration platform showcasing how to turn surface materials such as metals, glass, leather and wood into digital button surfaces.
UltraSense Systems develops ultrasonic touch solutions with precise, highly localized, buttonless interfaces that bring surfaces to life. The company has created the world’s smallest ultrasound system-on-a-chip that can sense through any material and replace mechanical buttons in smartphones, consumer electronics, home appliances, automotive, IoT, industrial and medical products. Its TouchPoint product line enables customers to deliver seamless touch HMIs on any surface, including metals, glass, plastics, wood and leather.
I don’t have any issue with using things like noticeable, durable slot machine buttons as the interactive trigger for a lot of utilitarian things. At a payment kiosk or information lookup screen, I want subtle. I want obvious.
But when you are merchandising expensive consumer items that are all about brand, and there’s not a lineup of people behind waiting for the user to do his or her thing, subtle and designed-in makes sense.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.