The $62 million sale of a touch tech startup adds to the Tablet revolution

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Welcome to the Touch revolution. Ahead of the impending news about the iTablet/iPad from Apple today, comes news that a French maker of touch input technology has been acquired by Tyco Electronics for $62 million upfront. Motorola’s venture arm also has an interest in the technology. Will we see the mobile maker create new touch devices? Could be.

The news wraps up a good day for key European venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners, which has exited its stake in its portfolio company Sensitive Object. At the same the VC has announced the closure its sixth fund, Sofinnova Capital VI, raising €260 million.

Sensitive Object has created a touch input technology based on acoustic waves processing (more here). Oh yes, you read that right. Instead of making the screen itself touch sensitive, it analyzes the sound waves that pass through object when somone touches it. Star Trek huh.

Sofinnova seeded the company in 2004 and was joined in the last financing round by Motorola Ventures. The company was a spin off from the French Public Center of Research.

Meanwhile, Tyco Electronics itself just posted a larger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit first-quarter net earnings of $269 million.

As for Sofinnova, the closing of this fund follows the most successful year in the firm’s history, which included three landmark exits (CoreValve, Fovea and Novexel), one IPO (Movetis) and eight new investments. Investors in Sofinnova Capital VI include LPs such as CDC Entreprises, within the France Investment program, Industrial & Financial Investments Co., JP Morgan Asset Management, funds advised by Partners Group and Skandia Life Insurance Company.

  • Ajax Jones

    Sounds like (excuse the pun) SAW’s or surface acoustic wave technology of some sort. First explained in 1885 !

    • geoman

      Keep in mind that Tyco is one of the suppliers of the GPS giant garmin. Seeing the GPS industry boom this 2010, is just wonderful. Hopefully we will be seeing more GPS related Apps on the future. Gps details:

  • a

    interesting stuff!

  • Adam Boalt

    Interesting technology-I can’t wait to see how it compares to the touchscreen on the iPhone (and, of course, the Apple tablet).

  • Fred Spoofe

    Apple just announced the MOSES TABLET. It predicts the future and has worldwide roaming.

  • WulfCry

    Wooohoo finally someone discovered sensitive object its about time.

    Although makes me wonder if this not going to be a buy any kind of touch technology trend by ventures.

    I know that sensitive object technology around for quiet a few years they have impressive demo’s.

    Thats about it.

  • Brian Reavis

    Definitely fascinating. I wonder how well it functions… are there prototype videos anywhere? With a capacitive or resistive sensing, the input isn’t prone to much error because one literally has to apply pressure for the touch event to register. Sound, however, seems like it could have some quirks… like erroneous “clicks” caused by bumping the device.

    It definitely wouldn’t be impossible to get around the sound quirks with some clever engineering though. I’m just curious how far along the technology is.

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