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Ultrasound could replace proximity sensors in future phones

Ultrasonic sensors could be the wave of the future if Elliptic Labs has a say. They want to use existing speakers and microphones for ultrasonic sensors

By: Jeff Williams from Jan 19, 2016 @ 10:02 CST

Ultrasonic could be the next principle used for sensors in phones. A new Norwegian startup company, Elliptic Labs, wants to use ultrasonic waves, and appropriate sensors, as a way to make phones even thinner than they already are . Or at least that's the plan.


Photo credit Digital Trends

Elliptic Labs solution is actually even simpler by using the existing speakers and microphones already in phones. Their novel software could then detect objects and do everything a traditional proximity sensors, which operate by emitting and detecting infrared in most cases. It would work by shooting out ultrasonic frequencies between 23kHz and 35kHz that, when modified by the presence of objects, is interpreted by their nifty software.

Not only could this make phones smaller, potentially (and that wouldn't necessarily be ergonomic either), but we could start seeing the inclusion of touchless gestures because of how efficient it could theoretically work. Synaptics has a working demo of something very similar to that, which we saw at CES, though that worked on the principle of electromagnetic radiation, not sound, like this. This could open up a lot of new exciting possibilities.


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