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CES 2022: New paper sensors ‘feel’ human presence

Two remarkable products that “feel” human presence through miniature carbon-nanotube paper composite (CPC) capacitive sensors are being unveiled at CES 2022 this week by nanotechnology innovator Somalytics. The company claims that the SomaControl gesture monitor and the SomaSense 3D floor mat represent “one of the biggest breakthroughs in consumer technology this decade”.

The devices were showcased by Somalytics at booth #513 at Unveiled Las Vegas yesterday, and will be on display at the company’s CES Central Hall booth #15879 at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the rest of CES.

“These new products are a great example of the kind of innovation that is possible with our new kind of capacitive sensors,” says Barbara Barclay, CEO of Somalytics. “We look forward to igniting discovery across many industries to pioneer better, faster and less-expensive applications for human-computer interaction. Our devices will enable life-changing applications in assistive technology, health and wellness, industrial safety, and transportation in addition to better experiences in consumer electronics, gaming and wearables as well as many other areas.”

SomaControl and SomaSense

SomaControl is a 3D gesture monitor that can enable everyday tasks at home or integrated into gaming devices for a more immersive experience. It allows users to interact with and control a digital device using hand movements with no contact.

SomaSense is a flexible 3D sensing floor mat that observes, monitors and reports on human wellness factors, including presence, gait and foot pressure, with applications in health tech and wellness assisting individuals with balance, movement and other challenges.

Demonstrations of these products at CES will show users firsthand ways that new and improved human-computer interface experiences are possible with Somalytics technology, including:

  • Gesture control of four LED lights.
  • Interactive gesture control of a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Monitoring of human wellness factors, including gait and foot pressure.

New CPC Sensor Technology

Somalytics is promising to bring better “sense” to the digital world by creating a new genre of gesture-based digital interfaces, wellness monitoring and safety applications. Its first-of-its-kind miniature sensor is flexible and highly sensitive to the human body. Mass production of Somalytics’ new capacitive sensors is expected to begin in 2022, ushering in a new era of human-machine interface applications that will save and improve lives.  

Compared to existing capacitive sensors, Somalytics’ are 100 times smaller and 10 times faster, with greater range for sensing proximity and pressure. Offering enhanced sensitivity to human tissue, the sensors acknowledge human presence at up to 20 centimetres. They work with any skin tone or eye shape, recognize 3D gestures without the need for any hand device, and are faster and better than infrared. All of this enables a new generation of touchless technology applicable to almost any interaction between humans and machines.

Better Eye Tracking

“Somalytics’ sensors will open a new era for wearable eye-tracking because the sensors are not camera-based and there is no illumination of the eye required,” says Barclay, a recognized international expert in eye-tracking technology. “The processing speed is under three milliseconds, and the sampling rate is 10 times faster than best-in-class existing technologies. With Somalytics’ sensors, eye tracking will evolve to accomplish the ‘real feel’ and ‘real-time eye to eye’ experience for which augmented and virtual reality users have long waited.”

Somalytics Launch

In November, Somalytics was spun out of CoMotion at the University of Washington with support from hard science investment firm IP Group Inc. Somalytics’ patent-pending products are a new class of ultrahigh-sensitivity, fast-response, capacitive sensors built using substrate filled with carbon nanotubes developed at the University of Washington in the laboratory of Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jae-Hyun Chung, Somalytics’ co-founder, and the laboratory of Assistant Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences Anthony Dichiara.

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