Eleksen searches for the bigger picture

Eleksen, the smart-fabric company based at Pinewood studios, is to join AIM in an attempt to expand its business portfolio. The company wants to move away from its consumer business base and into untapped markets. It expects a market capitalisation of £20.4m.

Robin Shephard, chief executive, said Eleksen will work with partners to develop the market for smart-fabric controls for consumer electronics. Longer term, it will try to license its technology to replicate the success of consumer electronics in other markets, such as healthcare, automotive and military.

The company announced at the recent CeBIT electronics show in Hanover that it will develop its smart-fabric touch pads for use in Microsoft’s new ultra-mobile personal computers. The planned products include a Bluetooth fabric keyboard and a USB keyboard that complement Microsoft’s strategy of providing a portable device that can perform many of the functions of larger PCs and laptops.

The company also has a deal with US clothing manufacturer Kenpo to make a selection of wearable technology products.

Eleksen’s patented technology, ElekTex, enables fabric to be programmed, thereby creating touch-sensitive controls for electronic devices. It replaces the hard touch-pads, flexi-circuits and polymer switches that have limited the growth of the wearable electronics market. The applications include controls for iPod players incorporated into clothes, bags and accessories and fabric keyboards for use with smartphones and PDAs.

The sensor consists of three layers, a top and bottom layer of conductive material and a middle layer that conducts electricity when pressure is applied to it. When the fabric is pressed current flows through the middle layer and, by measuring the change in voltage resistance, it is possible to know where and how hard the fabric has been pressed.