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Sensor system allows input from virtually anything

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A startup whose technology will allow you to turn virtually anything into an input device, so for example you could use a table to change channel or pick up the phone, or control your computer by banging your head on the wall, has received €2 million in financing from European VC outfit Sofinnova. French company Sensitive Object's Reversys uses cheap sensors and a process it calls "time reversal acoustics" so that you can make the objects around you can come alive simply by tapping them.

Maybe we exaggerated when we said "virtually anything", because as far as we can gather the object has to be sufficiently rigid for a tap in a specific area to have a specific effect. So hamburgers, soft fruit, most items of apparel probably won't work. But still... According to Sensitive Object, low cost sensors can be fitted to rigid surfaces, and send input to the audio input of a computer. Time reversal acoustics analyses the sound and figures out where on the object they came from, so you could be turning a table or a window into a touchpad. Or a keyboard. Or something.

Effectively, the company (English language front door here) sees its technology as making it simple to interact with a wide range of objects in everyday life, and allowing all sorts of things to have interactivity added to them. The key, it says, is that it's very low cost, simple to install and reconfigure, and can be stuck on a wide range of materials.

The system was developed by Ros K. Ing (who hails from Cambodia and is therefore not a typo) and Mathias Fink of the University of Paris, and Hubert Cospain has been brought in as company CEO. Jean Schmitt of Soffinova has also joined the board.

According Cospain the next phase of development will focus on electrical command, "from switches to control panels, including keyboards and the tactilisation of objects." Keyboards? And why not. One that figures out which key you pressed by the noise it makes sounds weirdly cool to us... ®

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