After revolutionizing the user interface market for mobile devices with its unique ultrasound technology, innovator Elliptic Labs has turned its attention toward reinventing the optical proximity sensor for smartphones.
Hardware-based optical sensors have been an indispensable part of every smartphone since their inception to turn off the screen and disable touch functionality when a user holds a device to their ear. By replacing these hardware components, with Elliptic Labs' “BEAUTY” – the first software-based solution to replace the optical proximity sensor – the unsightly black holes on the front of smartphone will be removed. The result is a more esthetically pleasing design.
The optical proximity sensor requires one rectangular black shape or two large holes on the screen, these sensors detect when users are in call mode so the touchscreen can be deactivated. Smartphone designers have long wanted to remove these unattractive holes on the faceplate of the phone, but without the proximity functionality, a user's cheek could accidentally trigger functions on the screen.
The hardware performing this required function has remained unchanged for years and represents a growing, multi-billion-dollar market worldwide. "We are disrupting this market with a superior software solution," explained Laila Danielsen, CEO of Elliptic Labs. "Our BEAUTY ultrasonic software-only solution replaces and outperforms optical hardware sensors, beautifying mobile design, reducing cost and freeing up physical space inside mobile device. We will see our BEAUTY solution incorporated into phones in 2016.”
The BEAUTY ultrasonic software is based on the same breakthrough ultrasound technology that led ABI Research to name Elliptic Labs a global "Hot Tech Innovator" for 2015. The company's sophisticated touchless gesture technology uses ultrasound to enable users to control electronic devices by hand movements all around a screen.
With Elliptic Labs BEAUTY product, ultrasound software delivers the proximity functionality, re-using the existing earpiece and microphone previously used only for audio. A potential game changer, Elliptic Labs’ BEAUTY software is the only technology today that can deliver the proximity functionality without using a physical hardware sensor.
Besides improving the smartphone design, Elliptic Labs BEAUTY software solves some of the issues associated with today’s optical proximity hardware sensors, reduces costs, and improves performance. Optical proximity sensors can be unreliable in certain weather conditions or in response to variations in hair and skin color. Elliptic Labs' software approach has none of these limitations and delivers a greater detection range.
Elliptic Labs is working directly with OEMs to cost-effectively integrate BEAUTY ultrasound proximity software into phones.