Feeling the pressure

Transense, the UK company developing a new tyre pressure monitoring system, said the launch of the first product incorporating its technology is imminent and asked investors to remain patient.


Transense, the UK company developing a new tyre pressure monitoring system, said the launch of the first product incorporating its technology is imminent and asked investors to remain patient despite ‘frustrating’ delays in tying up commercial deals.

The Oxfordshire company told shareholders that the launch of its Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) into the commercial vehicle market will happen this year following the completion of engineering development for a major licensee, which it did not name.

The system is based on Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) technology and is just one of several monitoring devices the company is developing.

SAW sensors work by bouncing acoustic waves off the surface they are monitoring. Subtle changes in the frequency are then detected to measure the strain the material is under. An RF link relays the information from the sensor back to the vehicle’s electronic systems for analysis.

Transense’s full-year losses increased to £874,000 from £683,000 in 2004, while turnover remained static at just over £550,000.

Chairman Peter Woods admitted that the process of licensing its technology had proved to be lengthy and painstaking. ‘This is par for the coursed where valuable licenses are concerned,’ he said. ‘We recognise that this can be frustrating for shareholders, and can also test the patience of management. Notwithstanding this, we need to be very careful when negotiating with large world-class companies to fully protect our IP, regardless of time delays.’

Woods stressed the importance of the commercial vehicle launch to trigger follow-on truck applications in Europe and Asia, as well as helping development of TPMS for passenger vehicles.

Through demonstrating to major OEMs and utilising links established through previous licence agreements, Transense aims to have TPMS in private cars by 2007.

Alongside tyre monitoring, Transense has developed SAW technology for applications in other automotive systems. Besides continued interest in its Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) torque sensors from tier one suppliers, the company delivered its first prototype driveline torque transducer to a major car group.

In addition, another of the big three car manufacturers commissioned the company to supply a driveline transducer for tests in its vehicles. It is hoped that following successful trials this will open up a large market for SAW technology.

The company said that with the technical development of SAW system components virtually complete, the emphasis is now on refining, extending, protecting and supporting its technological base by working with licensees to market to automotive OEMs. It added that it has also strengthened its IP base with the number of grants per invention increasing to 24 from 20 in 2004.