Technology from Yorkshire set to transform touchscreen world

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TECHNOLOGY developed by Yorkshire firm Carclo could transform the $10bn market for mobile phone and tablet computer touch screens, its business partner Atmel declared yesterday.

Atmel, which is based in the United States, yesterday launched XSense – touch screen sensors derived from the Ossett, West Yorkshire-based company’s conductive inkjet technology (CIT). The $1.8bn turnover technology giant said Xsense would “not only enable a new generation of smartphones and tablets, but also extend touch capabilities into a wider array of new consumer and industrial products”.

Carclo said yesterday the touch screen project was a “very substantial opportunity” for it.

“This exciting development gives the board confidence that the new financial year will be transformational for the group,” it said, adding it traded in line with expectations during the year to the end of March.

Atmel said volume production of touch sensors from both Carclo’s CIT pilot line and its own full-scale production line would start in the third quarter of 2012.

Atmel is now working on multiple programmes with a broad range of customers, it added.

“We expect the prepayment due from Atmel under our partnership agreement to be received as volume production commences,” said Carclo.

Atmel said the technology was unique in that it allowed developers to make larger, lighter, less power-hungry, sleeker, curved and edgeless designs for smartphones, tablets and other products.

“Our groundbreaking XSense technology transforms the touch experience for users of new smartphones, tablets and other touch-enabled products,” said Atmel president and CEO Steve Laub.

“XSense launches a new era of touch design, enabling our customers to redefine touch and to create a new class of products that were previously only imaginable.”

Jennifer Colegrove, vice president of emerging display technologies at market research firm NPD DisplaySearch, added: “The combined touchscreen sensor and controller IC industry is over $10bn currently and is still growing rapidly. “There is significant demand in the industry for larger, thinner and lighter touch sensors.

“Material, such as Atmel’s new touch sensor technology XSense, is penetrating into the touch sensor market to offer designers new thin, lightweight, flexible and durable designs.”

Carclo’s CIT lays fine lines of copper to create considerably cheaper and thinner touch screens than those made using the conventional indium tin oxide.

It has an exclusive 10-year deal with Atmel, which is based in San Jose, California.

Carclo added it has seen no more “inventory corrections” in its technical plastics division and expects it to return to growth in the new financial year.