$US 2.5 million seed round for Sydney sensor maker

University of NSW Sydney spinout robotics business Contactile has announced a $US 2.5 million ($AUD 3.5 million) seed round, led by Silicon Valley-headquartered True Ventures.

UNSW Founder, Radar Ventures and Flying Fox Ventures also featured in the raise, which was first reported by the website robotics-world.com.

True Ventures’s portfolio includes Fitbit, Ring and Peloton.

Contactile was founded by Dr Heba Khamis, Benjamin Xia and Dr Stephen Redmond in late-2018, after the trio had collaborated on sensors, work which began in 2014. 

The sensor system, named PapillArray, is inspired by the human sense of touch, and fits onto a gripping surface such as a robot effector. The pads interpret changes of light made inside each silicone pillar in an array, converting this into information on 3D force, torque, slip and friction.

“The fundamental technology is the sensors, and we’ve been producing sensors that can be demonstrated on a two-finger gripper,” Khamis told robotics-world.com

“But those sensors can be fitted onto a three-finger, four- or five-finger gripper, or it could be a fully functional hand. It’s very repurposeable and amenable to different form factors.”

Contactile makes and sells tactile sensor pads and software developer kits, with early adopters in university research groups.

Khamis recently participated in the “Game changers — manufacturers redefining their sectors” web event, hosted by @AuManufacturing and MYOB. It can be viewed here. 

Picture: Contactile

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