A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have used a new class of ultrasonic transducers to reliably detect distance changes, movement patterns and gestures in ranges of up to half a metre. Considering the wide applicability of touch screen capabilities within smartphones and other contact/movement based technologies, Fraunhofer hopes its findings will provide a new, non-contact, three-dimensional method of measuring said movement. 

Scientists have developed a microchip architecture that can generate and receive ultrasound up to 300 KHz. Fraunhofer IPMS representatives are certain that the ultrasonic transducer has advantages over competing optical sensor methods. 

Group leader Sandro Koch notes: “Compared to camera- based systems, our ultrasonic sensors enable the construction of significantly cheaper electronic and software systems, due to longer signal transit times. Our transducers are not susceptible to stray light and allow for reliable data acquisition on optically transparent surfaces as well. Our systems are CMOS-compatible, are considerably more compact and can be inexpensively produced in mass quantities.” 

For uses in automation, safety and medical technology, as well as automotive, entertainment and household electronics, you can read more about Fraunhofer’s ultrasound development on their website: www.ipms.fraunhofer.de