NextInput Completes Underwater Touchscreen Prototype

ATLANTA – Today, NextInput announced that it has developed the world’s first touchscreen capable of operation underwater. The Atlanta-based company, part of Georgia Tech’s  Advanced Technology Development Center, created the prototype using its patent-pending ForceTouch technology, a force-sensitive approach to sensing touch locations on virtually any surface under virtually any conditions, even underwater. 

“Our underwater touchscreen demonstration is an important achievement for NextInput as a company as well as for important consumer electronics categories like smartphones and digital cameras,” says CEO Don Metzger. “Manufacturers in these categories have been seeking a solution to harsh environment and underwater operability – not just ‘water proof’ but ‘water functional’. ForceTouch is that solution.”

Because NextInput’s ForceTouch technology senses touch by measuring forces on a touch surface like a piece of glass, the technology can work with virtually any input device – a finger inside heavy ski gloves for example. The same force-sensitive properties that enable ForceTouch to recognize input from nearly any object also allow ForceTouch systems to work underwater, even while absolute pressure changes while scuba diving. “The principle is fairly simple,” says CTO Ryan Diestelhorst. “The ForceTouch system is looking for relative, not absolute, changes in force, so it can distinguish between a scuba diver submerging to a depth slowly and the quick, relative change in force from a touch event.”

Applications for underwater operability of touchscreens abound and include everything from scuba diving computers and ruggedized smart watches to digital cameras – even smartphones may one day be capable of underwater operation. “Samsung just launched their ‘Galaxy S4 Active,’ which is water resistant, to a degree – meaning that it won’t break if you submerge it,” says NextInput COO Ian Campbell. “However, as soon as you take the capacitive touchscreen underwater, it loses all functionality – the phone is useless underwater. ForceTouch augments the capacitive touchscreen and gives something like a smartphone the ability to actually work underwater.”

NextInput is in the process of commercializing its ForceTouch technology with a number of manufacturers in a variety of industries.

About NextInput

NextInput develops next generation input technology – force-sensitive touch technology for smartphones, tablets, laptops, automotive touch zones, and virtually any other electronic device. NextInput, an Advanced Technology Development Company (ATDC) with strong ties to Georgia Tech, offers a complete touch solution called ForceTouch® to electronics manufacturers – proprietary sensors, firmware, and drivers for popular operating systems like Android.

For more information about NextInput, visit www.NextInput.com