Exclusive: Austin’s SigmaSense Raises $22M Series A

Austin-based SigmaSense has raised $22 million to bring its touch-screen technology to the broader market.

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Foxconn Technology Group led the round, with participation from Corning, former Dell CFO Tom Meredith, E Ink, GIS and MRI. The Series A follows a number of seed rounds, bringing the company’s total funding to around $28 million.

SigmaSense takes the idea of touch-screen technology to another level. The technology can be used for high-hover touchless gestures on screens and can sense through water.

For example–the company’s technology when installed in table tops can sense what’s sitting on the surface, or if a glass of water spills or needs a refill, said CEO Rick Seger.

The company says its technology can deliver 100 to 1,000 times improved signal-to-noise performance. The signal-to-noise ratio is the measurement of a signal’s strength compared to background noise. 

“It’s the ability to go much higher than what anybody else can do,” Seger said in an interview with Crunchbase News. “Go through the glass of a store window, go through gloves.”

Seger was formerly the president of N-trig, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2015. N-trig’s technology is what’s in Microsoft’s Surface Pro products, including the touchscreen and pen. 

Around the time of the sale, Seger was approached by Shawn and Troy Gray, who worked for Wacom, which makes the technology in several products by Samsung, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Although they were Seger’s “archenemies” at the time, because they worked for a competitor, they came to him with a proposition to team up.

SigmaSense was born, and one of the first things the company did was approach the big players in the touch-screen market, including Foxconn, Corning, E Ink, LG-MRI and GIS, Seger said.

“This particular round has all five of those companies in it and these guys make great partners for us in taking this technology to market now,” Seger said, noting that the investors are all very technical.

“These are also the partners that have lived with the pain of traditional threshold-based sensing,” Seger said. “They know the pain of traditional threshold-based sensing and the limitations poor signal-to-noise ratios cause.” 

With the new funding, the company plans to ramp up production of its newest chip, which can go in items like cell phones, tablets and table tops. Before, the company was mostly making prototypes for customers, but now will transition into high-volume production of its new chip.

“High speeds, sensing through all the spills and water. This is what will enable a whole new generation of HMIs (human machine interface) for devices,” Seger said.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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