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Swedes make their mark with touch screen phones

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09:46 CET+01:00
Like the idea of touch screen, but put off by fiddly interfaces? Jonathan Ward looks at Neonode, a Swedish company that may have the answer to some of your problems.

Who are Neonode?

Neonode is a name that has probably escaped many Swedes, but their mobile technology is a rival to the household names we covet. Still a small but growing firm, the company retains offices in Stockholm, the United States, Shanghai and Hong Kong. They are a new but ambitious company who employ their patented technology to revolutionize how we use mobile phones with the recently launched Neonode N2 touch screen phone.

History

Neonode was formed in 2001 in Sweden by two men who set out to create a new direction in how we interface with our mobile phones. They regarded the phone market as static in terms of real innovation and sought to develop their ideas to take a real step forward. They patented their technology (zForce and neno) and launched a prototype phone on the web in 2004, the Neonode 1. This proof-of-concept proved popular and the feedback helped guide their research for the first commercial launch, the N2 in 2007. The company was also listed on the NASDAQ exchange during 2007 in New York.

The sales pitch

Intuitively one might think that, with the launch of the iPhone, Neonode would lose business to the hi-tech giant. However, the Neonode N2 uses radically different technology to the iPhone, and the company has welcomed the attention brought to touch screen phones and technology by Apple.

They also have a unique feature in that the screen uses an infra-red grid to detect the finger's position, and does not require pressure to work. Instead you only tap or sweep your finger to control the many features (phone, media, etc) without a stylus. The N2 is also exceptionally small – about the size of a credit card – and only weighs 60 grams.

Future

Whilst R&D continues on their technology, the company is following a plan for steady growth in different regional markets and is promoting the N2 heavily. Media and business interest in the N2 has been high globally, promising further market penetration. What may propel the company forward is that their touch screen technology is transferable to many devices, not just mobiles, and this expansion could guarantee them real success as new interfaces are sought by a more demanding world.

For more information:

www.neonode.com

See also:

Neonode's cheeky ad campaign

Jonathan Ward

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