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The startup, headed by an ex-Apple engineer’s focus is on how to eliminate the smartphone, buttons

(Reuters) – Sentons, a startup led by chip-industry veteran, on Thursday, began marketing a technology that aims to do away with the camera, the buttons, and it said it was working with two of the smartphone makers, in addition to an existing contract with Asus Computer Inc.

Under the direction of Jess Lee, an engineer, who sold his last company to Apple Inc. Sentons announced the formation of a sensor-based system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to detect touch, squeeze, and sweep in a wide variety of materials, such as metal borders around the smartphone.

The technology is already being used by taiwan’s Asus and its partner with Tencent Holdings to have a phone that is specially designed for gamers, which was released in China this summer.

The Asus phone, the sensors will be able to the gamers to hold the phone horizontally and tap on the “Air ” Triggers” on the top and virtual buttons with their index finger while their thumb on the device’s screen.

Touch screens are great, but phone makers) had not been able to figure out how to add interactivity to the side,” Lee told Reuters in an interview.

“The thinner and lighter form factor, possibly with the glass, or with some funky metal bands that are really, really thin, there is no room for the buttons.”

Lee, who was sold to a sensor start up called InVisage Technologies, Apple in 2017, declined to identify the other two smartphones makers, Sentons to work.

At the core of the Sentons technology is a customized chip, which passes it on to the sound of the waves, and includes a processor and algorithms for the understanding of the various movements of the body.

Sentons is also working on a “virtual” jog-wheel that allows the user to scroll through the apps on the phone that are too big to hold with one hand. Another project is the virtual shutter button to focus the camera, much the same way as a physical shutter release button works in particular with digital cameras, Lee said.

San Jose, California, and on the basis of Sentons and has about 50 employees and has raised $37.7 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates and Northern Light Venture Capital.

Then, as smartphones, Lee said that the company hopes will allow it to add a touch of interaction with devices, where screen space is extremely limited, such as in the frame of the smart glasses, and the bands on the smartwatch, or in areas where there are no screens, such as the steering wheel of the car.

In the car, “there are a variety of luxurious materials – wood and leather-and metal-working,” he said. “We will be able to make all of that running.”

Report by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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