Curious grey stuff could radically alter handset design

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Water damage – the bane of mobile phone makers and users alike – could be a thing of the past thanks to a plucky U.K. company, Peratech.

The company produces a conductive material which it calls QTC (Quantum Tunnelling Composites). Its codename – curious grey stuff – is more descriptive.

QTC can be used to build ultra-thin switches, in the region of 15 microns, that can create extremely flexible and – more importantly, waterproof – handset keypads or keyboards.

Philp Taysom, a Peratech director, couldn't discuss much as he has non-disclosure agreements [NDAs] coming out of his ears, but he could say he is already working with four leading handset vendors.

One of the advantages to QTC is being proportional so the harder you squeeze it, the better it conducts, making it ideal for a volume switch, for example.

Taysom also hinted very heavily that this flexibility could entirely alter how phone GUIs work. Press hard, for example, and you could skip through a whole bunch of menus.

Another benefit with QTC is that the material can be easily molded into a casing or hidden behind a glass touchscreen. That would make one handed operation of a phone even easier.

Peratech was actually talking to reporters about RFIDs but this stuff is far more interesting. It could easily change the way a handset is controlled in the very near future.

Tysom couldn't even reveal if any phone manufacturer is already shipping a handset which takes advantage of QTC. Speculations are that it is, and Apple handsets would be a good guess.

As he observed, QTC can potentially provide such a competitive advantage that a handset vendor would keep the majority of its own workforce in the dark about its usage.
Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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