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Hotknot technology makes touchscreen no longer just touchscreen
Jason Yang, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Monday 30 December 2013]

At the end of November 2013, MediaTek announced a new near field communication technology called Hotknot, which does not require NFC chips or antennas to work, and the technology has already received supports from China-based Internet players Alibaba and Tencent and will be adopted into the former's Alipay payment system and the latter's WeChat messagig services.

The technology, which transmits data through projected capacitive touch panels, was actually developed by China-based touchscreen IC designer Goodix, in which MediaTek holds a major stake.

When two projected capacitive touch panels get near each other, they will create a capacitive coupling similar to the one created by fingers and add extra signals to the touch panels' driving line. As a result, when two pieces of touch panels are close to each other, the current changes caused by the capacitive coupling can be detected and the built-in digital signal processors (DSPs) will be able able to sense and filter these extra signals to achieve data transmission purposes.

The data-transmission technology only requires two pieces of Hotknot-featured touch panels. But as the technology does not use antennas and has a low transmission power, for two devices using the technology to transmit data, they almost need to directly touch each other and the technology only supports up to 7kbps of transmission speed, far lower than that of the conventional NFC technology.

Currently, both Goodix and MediaTek own the patents of the technology, but Goodix has already expressed its willingness to license the patents to others. Several China-based handset vendors have expressed interest in adopting the technology.

Because of the technology's low transmission speed and weak transmission range, Digitimes Research believes Hotknot will mainly be used on pairing users' smart devices to save the pairing time needed for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth transmission. Since the technology is able to pair smart devices in only a short period of time, users do not need to spend time manually looking for the devices they wish to pair, which greatly enhance their usage experience.

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