Steve Cliffe is chief executive officer of Ultrahaptics, a company with a unique “virtual touch” technology. He shares his thoughts about what a Queen’s Award means to a cutting-edge technology company.
Haptics is to touch what visuals are to sight, or audio to hearing. And haptic technology – which is technology that communicates with users via the sense of touch – is a cutting-edge and rapidly growing field.
Ultrahaptics’ unique haptic technology uses patented algorithms to control ultrasound waves, enabling us to create the sensation of touch in mid-air.
We were founded in 2014. In just four years of trading, we’ve raised over £30 million in investment and grown into an international company with nearly 100 employees. We’ve integrated our mid-air haptic technology into cars, augmented and virtual reality, digital signage, and kiosks. We’ve also worked with many blue-chip companies including Meta, Bosch, Harman, Dell, Nike and Barco.
At Ultrahaptics, we’d been aware of the Queen’s Awards for some time, but last year we felt that our haptic business had developed to the point at which we might have a chance of winning. And of course, applying for the Innovation category (which recognises outstanding commercial success as a result of innovation) was a natural fit for us.
Being able to announce at our monthly company lunch that we’d won one of the UK’s top business awards was a great feeling. Having an amazing innovation isn’t enough: you need a great team to make an idea into a reality. To be able to say to the group of talented, committed and determined people we have at Ultrahaptics that all their work had been recognised was really powerful.
We have ambitious plans for further expansion, and what the Queen’s Award also shows to potential customers and investors is that we’ve already gone through a rigorous external validation of our haptic technology and our commercial strategy.
For any other innovative technology companies thinking of applying, my advice would be that a Queen’s Award proves to the world you have not just a smart idea but also a robust business model. (And you also get to go to Buckingham Palace).
More about Ultrahaptics
Ultrahaptics’ breakthrough technology creates the sensation of touch in mid-air – virtual shapes and textures that can be felt without the need for controllers or wearables. We enable our customers to harness the extraordinary power of haptics, and expertly support them to deliver immersive, intuitive, innovative and often magical experiences across a range of sectors.
Our core haptic technology uses patented algorithms to control ultrasound waves, enabling us to create tactile sensations in mid-air. No controllers or wearables are needed: the “virtual touch” technology uses ultrasonic speakers to project shapes and textures directly onto the user’s hands.