TT Electronics: Development of Sensopad™ technology

Sagentia has a long history of innovation and successful licensing of low-cost, non-contact position sensing technology. With Sensopad™, our teams developed an innovative, low-cost, accurate and rugged position sensing technology for application in a wide range of markets. TT Electronics, a global electronics group supplying leading manufacturers in the defense, aerospace, medical, transportation and industrial markets, recognized the potential of the Sensopad™ technology to address the automotive industry’s move towards digital, non-contact sensing. In 2004, TT Electronics acquired the rights to Sensopad™ and used its extensive market reach to successfully launch and commercialize the technology.

Sensopad

Since the development of a first generation position sensing technology in the mid-1990s, deployed in toys and other consumer applications, Sagentia has gone on to further develop and patent a range of inductive sensor solutions. With Sensopad™, Sagentia had identified an opportunity to take the sensing technology to the next level by using advanced modeling methods, digital electronics, mechanical design, and software algorithms. TT Electronics identified that the technology could be used in automobile pedals as a primary opportunity, as well as in headlamp leveling, chassis height, and suspension control systems. In 2004 TT Electronics acquired an exclusive license for the technology in the automotive industry. TT Electronics now market this technology as their Autopad® product range.

Sagentia’s Industrial and Science & Technology teams understood that it was possible to create a very high precision, repeatable and stable sensor technology by using standard PCB photolithographic techniques to design inductive sensor coils. In addition, Sagentia professionals invented a novel digital, low-cost electronics solution for processing the signals. TT Electronics and Sagentia then made further enhancements to the technology to take into account the requirements of the automotive industry, specifically to ensure its robustness. TT Electronics developed a bespoke ASIC for the Sensopad™ sensor and, leveraging their significant sales volumes, created a competitively priced sensor solution.

Sensopad™ is low-cost, non-contact, very robust (approved and effective in temperature ranges from -55° to +150°C) and now proven in the automotive sector. It is also relatively insensitive to metal and magnets compared to competitive technologies. Following product launch in 2008, TT Electronics sells five million units a year to leading automotive companies including Volkswagen, Mercedes, and BMW. As part of the license agreement, Sagentia has the rights to use this ASIC in fields outside of automotive.