FlatFrog Shows Curved Touch System

FlatFrog of Sweden was one the most interesting companies for us at ISE. We have been reporting on the firm since 2010 and the company was one of the highlights of last year’s ISE. At that time, the firm said that it hoped to be able to extend from around 32″ to be able to support 65″ displays, so we were surprised when the firm said that it has been able to get to 100″ at this year’s show, having got 42″ and 65″ displays supported in Q4. We interviewed Nathan Moyal of FlatFrog.

FlatFrog’s technology uses what it calls “InGlass” methods. Light is piped into the edge of a glass plate and the system detects where the total internal reflection (TIR) is broken by the touch of a finger, glove or stylus. The system has very clear optical performance and can also detect pressure (although this doesn’t seem to be a big need at present). It avoids the raised bezel of infrared technologies, although the sensors need to be around the edge of the glass, so there is some border.

We reported last year that FlatFrog was talking with a big OEM and then last month, it said that it was now in production. (FlatFrog InGlass Wins PC OEM) What was clear from the design of the sample that was on show is that the OEM is HP. It took a long time to get the win and become qualified with HP, but now the company is able to move onto larger sizes. At larger sizes, it has the advantage that the processing component is the same for big displays as small, which means good scalability in terms of cost.

At the show, FlatFrog was showing how its touch system could even be used on a 70″ Samsung curved TV.

Analyst Comment

We said last year that we weren’t sure that wasn’t a “gotcha” related to the FlatFrog technology. I suspect that the most likely commercial barrier to adoption may be that you can’t use “just any glass”. Glass to particular specifications and possibly with limited supply might be a barrier. Nevertheless, we still like FlatFrog’s technology and an endorsement from HP certainly shows that it works. (BR)