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Ultrahaptics Hires Vice President to Handle Sales of Touchless Interfaces

Ultrahaptics, which sells ultrasonic sensors that give people the sensation of touching virtual objects with their bare hands, has hired David Hearne as its new vice president of sales. The start-up is targeting customers in the virtual and augmented reality field as well as the automotive industry.

Previously, Hearne was senior sales director for Cadence’s intellectual property business in Europe. Before that, he was Plessy Semiconductor’s vice president of worldwide sales. “We have started to see our customers bring products to the market and David will be instrumental in helping us to strengthen our commercial team,” said Ultrahaptics’ chief executive Steve Cliffe.

The company currently sells a development board for products that allow users to flip invisible switches on a car’s dashboard or turn virtual oven dials while feeling as though they are actually physical knobs and buttons. Ultrahaptics recently updated its software with a library of different sensations to build into the company’s touchless interfaces.

Harman plans to integrate the company’s touchless interfaces into a gesture control system for speaker systems and dashboard displays in cars. Ultrahaptics’ device could also be paired with virtual reality headsets, which usually rely on gloves laced with motion sensors or baton-shaped controllers to move virtual objects in video games.

Ultrahaptics, which was founded Sriram Subramanian and Tom Carter in 2013, has raised $39.7 million of venture capital funding. The company employs around 80 people and plans to hire more engineering and sales staff to fill out its new office in Palo Alto, California. Its rivals include Immersion, Tactical Haptics, and Tactai.

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