Consumer electronics

Internet of things

Invested by Wang Xiaochuan, founder of Chuang Dongfang and Sogou, with a total financing of over 100 million yuan, "Tishen Technology" aims to become a tactile AI empowerer in the IOT era

Release time:

2023-11-16 10:15

Tactile AI solution provider "TacSense Technology" has recently completed Series B financing, with a cumulative financing amount of more than 100 million yuan. This round of financing was led by Chuangdongfang, followed by old shareholders Yuandu and Beijing Yuanhui, and Wang Xiaochuan, former president of Sogou, also participated in this round of financing as an individual investor. The funds from this round of financing will be used to expand the team, assemble and test production lines, expand the market and replenish working capital.

The main business model of "TacSense Technology" is based on its self-developed flexible pressure sensor and launched a haptic empowerment solution for the industrial, human-computer interaction and medical device industries, so that the smart devices in these industries have the ability to sense external pressure, and further provide the user-side use value from the analysis and mining of pressure data. Wang Xiaoyang, Founder and Chairman, said: "TacSense Technology pioneered the world's fourth-generation flexible ionized tactile sensing technology (FITS)." To put it simply, the most direct effect of this technology is to modify the surface of the object in the most sensitive and interference-free way, so that it can sense external pressure. In terms of the specific preparation process, substrates such as plastics and paper are processed by soaking or coating from electronic materials to form a pressure-sensing layer, and then form a contact surface with the conductive material layer; The change of external force is sensed by changing the contact surface area between the two layers of materials.

With the continuous penetration of the Internet of Things, haptic sensing technology is also evolving. Previously, pressure sensors included resistive, capacitive and piezoelectric, but compared with these traditional pressure sensors, TacSense's FITS sensors not only achieve fully transparent materials, but also have a higher signal-to-noise ratio, a wider pressure measurement range and a shorter response time. In addition, the thickness of the sensor is thinner, enabling the measurement of pressure distribution in confined spaces.

Figure 1: Comparison of different pressure sensing technology paths

Previously, almost all pressure sensors on the market came from foreign companies, and the pressure sensors of "TacSense Technology" can reduce the cost of use by up to 90%, so as to provide a universal haptic solution suitable for more cost-sensitive scenarios. Wang Xiaoyang said, "TacSense Technology wants to achieve localized supply, in addition to the price advantage, the continuous iteration of the performance, but also in the localization of the solution than foreign products", in order to achieve cost-effective domestic substitution, but also to make the product close to the user "better to use".

FITS technology was first proposed by Pan Tingrui, the co-founder of "TacSense Technology", in 2009, which could improve the sensitivity of capacitive sensors by more than 1,000 times and the mechanical response speed by more than 20 times. However, there is still a huge gap between scientific research and industrialization, such as the industrial mass production of sensors, which requires long-term process polishing and industrial equipment development and operation management.

In 2017, under the arrangement of Wang Xiaochuan, the founder of Sogou, Pan Tingrui's middle school classmate, Pan Tingrui met with Dr. Wang Xiaoyang, an investor/professional manager who is also an alumnus of Tsinghua University. Pan Tingrui, Wang Xiaochuan, and Wang Xiaoyang are classmates of Chengdu No. 7 Middle School. Meet again, facing the Internet of Things industry with a long chain, how to start from the bottom and start from raw materials to generate sustainable value for users is a new direction that the three of them want to explore. This meeting also became the opportunity for the birth of "TacSense Technology".

Subsequently, in 2018, "TacSense Technology" was established as a joint venture between the founding team and Shenzhen Advanced Institute, and was supported by the Pearl River Plan Entrepreneurship Project in Guangdong Province. In a rented house in Xili, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, the two founders have once again become roommates.

After 4 years of development, the current pressure sensing solution of "TacSense Technology" has been widely used in the fields of industrial testing and human-computer interaction, and has broken through a single million-level large customer order in both fields and realized the repeated purchase of head customers.

In the industrial field, for example, an important application is the inspection of lithium battery production processes. For example, formation is a critical part of lithium battery production, which must be carried out in a pressure-controlled environment, which directly affects battery life, energy density and safety.

Figure 2: Formation multi-channel pressure detection

TacSense's haptic AI solution can provide real-time pressure distribution data for this link, which can not only help the inspection end reject unqualified batteries, but also feed the data back to the formation press in real time to realize online machine adjustment and improve the yield of battery preparation. In the past year, TacSense's solutions have achieved a penetration rate of nearly 50% among leading domestic battery manufacturers and brought tens of millions of revenues.

In other industrial application fields, such as 3C assembly, LCD panel lamination detection, semiconductor grinding and cutting process and other different scenarios, the pressure distribution measurement system of "TacSense Technology" can realize pressure distribution detection, feedback and adjustment in different fields and different links, and has been successfully introduced into Apple's supply chain (Foxconn, BOE, etc.) and domestic manufacturers (such as Huawei, OPPO, etc.).

The representative application in the field of human-computer interaction is the pressure sensitivity of TWS earphones of consumer electronics, which broke out at the end of 2019, Apple considers that it is more in line with the usage habits of consumers, reduces the rate of false touch, and continues to use pressure sensitivity instead of touch in the human-computer interaction scheme, thus educating a large number of consumers to "pinch" the action and realize the interaction of the intention with the earphones from the pressure dimension. Subsequently, domestic brand manufacturers, including white-label headphones, are also competing to make changes and iterate products in this direction.

Figure 3 shows Apple AirPods, the picture comes from the Internet

In this scenario, the pressure sensor of "TacSense Technology" is tailor-made to be 2mm*2mm in size, and soldered to the circuit board like an ordinary chip, so that it can perceive the consumer's click, double-click, long-press, and swipe touch operation through the earphone shell. At present, "TacSense Technology" has achieved million-level shipments per project in this segment and entered Xiaomi's supply chain system. In addition, as a new business growth point, "TacSense Technology" has begun to pre-develop other enabling solutions in the field of human-computer interaction, such as notebook touchpads and smartphone 3D touch.

Furthermore, the value of haptic technology in existing landing scenarios is still deepening. The positioning of "TacSense Technology" is to empower haptic AI, in other words, to add haptic data to the scene, and this provides "TacSense Technology" to be a data-value-empowered company through the accumulation of a large amount of data in specific vertical industries, helping customers iterate their products and services with AI learning. "For example, the research on the data correlation of the battery expansion force dimension during charging can make fast charging more intelligent and balance the contradiction between safety and charging efficiency."

Figure 4.Integrated solution for battery BMS pressure monitoring

In the field of new energy, the goal of "TacSense Technology" is to monitor the force dimension data of the whole life cycle of the battery, and to be the "tactile skin" of the "smart battery". "TacSense Technology" hopes to extend the current stress test scenarios at the battery production end to the battery use side. That is, the pressure sensor is implanted inside the battery cell, and the real-time internal pressure data under the operating state is obtained through the BMS, so as to judge whether the battery is at risk at present and solve the safety anxiety of battery use.

In terms of the team, founder and CEO Wang Xiaoyang graduated from the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, and holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the National University of Singapore, with more than 10 years of experience in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and investment and production management of high-tech enterprises.

The co-founder, Tingrui Pan, is the chief scientist, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Tsinghua University, and has presided over 20+ major R&D projects of national and multinational enterprises in the United States, and published 100+ high-level papers in international core journals.

Facing the vast world of recreating haptic intelligence in the field of IOT in the future, the two founders also expressed their thirst for talents; "TacSense Technology" hopes to share the historical opportunity of tactile AI empowerment with curious and responsible entrepreneurial partners, and share the exploration of the trinity entrepreneurial model from component production to solve the "stuck neck" problem (original factory), to intelligent intelligent manufacturing to provide system solutions "corner overtaking" (solution providers), to data value service "empowerment" (operation).

Investor's Perspective

Xie Yujuan, partner of Chuangdong:

The investment fund is the first fund to focus on the market-oriented operation of alumni enterprises of the University of Science and Technology of China, which is jointly funded by the Investment Institute of Advanced Technology of China University of Science and Technology, Anhui Credit Guarantee Group, Hefei Xingtai Capital and Socialized Capital. From the perspective of project investment and post-investment services, the investment of Chuangdong Red Brick Fund can not only give full play to the market-oriented leading investment effect of well-known investment institutions, but also integrate the ecological resources of scientific research, technology and industry of the University of Science and Technology of China, and at the same time can cooperate with the regional industrial resource advantages of Anhui Provincial LP in new energy vehicles and display semiconductors. Dr. Wang Xiaoyang is my Ph.D. brother in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore, and co-taught by Professor Xie Min, who was then a professor at NUS (graduated from the 78th Junior Class of USTC). Professor Tingrui Pan is a scientist in the field of flexible ion sensors, and after returning from the United States, he is currently working at the Suzhou Research Institute of USTC. Our team has been paying attention to the development of TacSense Technology since the project incubation, and this long-term project tracking and service has deepened the mutual trust between the investor and the team. As an aspect of the five senses of the human body, pressure will inevitably usher in new development in the new era of interconnection of all things and human-computer interaction, and as a leader in ion flexible pressure sensors, it is currently in the stage of rapid product expansion in various application directions such as consumer electronics, new energy, display, and medical treatment.

Wang Xiaochuan, founder of Sogou:

Wang Xiaoyang and Pan Tingrui and I are not only classmates of Chengdu No. 7 Middle School, but also alumni of Tsinghua University, and we have a very deep affection and trust. The two of them are also very complementary to each other, Professor Pan has scientific research breakthroughs, and Dr. Wang has rich experience in operation and management. The model of [TacSense Technology] represents the most advanced entrepreneurial direction now, and it is born at the right time. I am now focusing on the field of life and health, and TacSense's sensors may also make a big difference in this field.

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