A closer look at Atmel’s AvantCar concept

Earlier this month, Atmel debuted its AvantCar concept at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. The fully functional console features two large curved touchscreen displays – without mechanical buttons. 

Instead, the touchscreens integrate capacitive touch buttons and sliders, allowing users to navigate general applications typically found within an automotive center console.

This includes global navigation system (GPS), car thermostat, audio controls for a radio or media player, seat controls and more. AvantCar also allows drivers to personalize their in-vehicle environment using advanced touch capabilities and LIN connectivity system to control ambient lighting.

According to Atmel Marketing Director Stephan Thaler, AvantCar successfully demonstrates the future of human machine interface (HMI) in upcoming vehicles. Indeed, next-generation automotive designs will be influenced by a wide range of trends in the consumer market such as slick and curved centerstack designs, as well as customization by appearance, color, navigation and interaction with a smartphone or tablet.

Atmel offers a number of comprehensive platforms and solutions to address the current and future requirements of a modern in-vehicle human-machine interface (HMI). However, the AvantCar Centerstack demo is the company’s first fully functional concept showcasing groundbreaking solutions within the automobile.

To be sure, AvantCar is powered entirely by Atmel technology, including maXTouch (two touchscreens), XSense (curved panel design), QTouch (touch buttons and sliders), dedicated algorithms running on Atmel touch chips and microcontrollers (proximity detection), as well as LIN-based ambient lighting control.

Let’s take a closer look at the above-mentioned technology behind the concept.


Atmel’s maXTouch lineup is qualified for various automotive applications, including in-vehicle touchscreens and touchpads.

maXTouch supports screens and pads from 2 inches up to 12 inches in size and is ideally suited for center stack displays as well as navigation systems, radio human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and rear seat entertainment systems. In addition, maXTouch devices provide unlimited touch identification, fast response time, precise operation and low power consumption for touch-based designs.


Atmel’s XSense touch sensors open a new world of possibilities for touch-based products. A highly flexible film, XSense sensors can be used on curved surfaces and edges, facilitating the design of futuristic in-vehicle touchscreens and surfaces. XSense also enables the replacement of mechanical switches or rotary knobs on a curved centerstack surface with more reliable, moisture-resistant, touch-based buttons.


Atmel’s QTouch library makes it easy for developers to embed capacitive-touch button, slider, wheel and proximity functionality in microcontroller applications.

The library facilitates the design of touch panels in the centerstack, as well as overhead or door panels. Plus, the royalty-free QTouch Library offers several files for each device, while supporting a number of touch channels – enabling both flexibility and efficiency in touch applications. In addition, Atmel provides a number of fixed-function products from 1 to 48 channels, with some of them qualified for the automotive market.

Automotive-qualified mcirocontrollers

New automotive functions require local intelligence and control, which can be optimized by the use of small, powerful microcontrollers.

In conjunction with a corresponding touch library, Atmel’s automotive-qualified MCUs are ideal for driving new and futuristic capacitive-based control panels in current and future cars.

LIN-based ambient lighting control

We offer LIN-related products at all integration levels – from simple transceiver ICs to complex system basis chips (SBC), along with system-in-package solutions such as the Atmel AVR ATA664251 for ambient lighting control.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s extensive automotive portfolio here.

7 thoughts on “A closer look at Atmel’s AvantCar concept

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  6. Kerry Thompson

    I understand this is a showcase for Atmel technology, which is great, but what is the point of “touch” screens in an automobile? The problem is that they can’t be operated by touch alone, but require sight as well, and thus constitute a serious distraction for drivers. This is particularly true when they are located far from the driver’s normal driving line of sight, such as on the center console.

    I think automotive applications would be better served by innovative controls that can be operated without diverting the driver’s eyesight away from the real task at hand, which is safely operating the motor vehicle. How can ever-more complex in-cabin systems be made less of a distraction and more of an aid to the driver?


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