Tag Archives: capacitive touch

Integrating Capacitive Touchscreens Into Automotive Dashboards

By Stephan Thaler and Thomas Wenzel

As automotive design engineers integrate more sophisticated touchscreen technologies into their vehicles, they are transforming the driver experience. Resistive touchscreens were once the predominant choice because they are easy to control and relatively inexpensive to manufacture. However, they also support lower light transmission and their surfaces are sensitive to scratching. Capacitive touchscreen technology overcomes many of the problems associated with resistive touchscreens, while bringing the familiar advantages of smartphones and tablets.

When a finger approaches the surface of a capacitive touchscreen, this leads to a slight change in capacities of one or more of the underlying sensors. Self-capacitance and mutual capacitance are two ways to map capacity. The self-capacitance method measures the input signal of a complete row and column of electrodes; however, this method doesn’t always unambiguously classify the position when operated with more than one finger. Mutual capacitance measures every point of intersection in the orthogonal mix. Given this, you can exclude gaps in the finger classification that would be visible on the screen. 

When a finger approaches the surface of a capacitive touchscreen, this creates a slight change in the capacities of one or more of the sensors in the screen.

When a finger approaches the surface of a capacitive touchscreen, this creates a slight change in the capacities of one or more of the sensors in the screen.

Unlike resistive technology, with capacitive technology the user’s finger doesn’t need to exert any pressure on the screen surface in order to be recognized. The precise position of the fingers on the touchscreen is calculated when the measured values of all points of the intersection are evaluated. Sensitive touchscreen controllers, such as Atmel maXTouch devices, can even register the approach of one or more gloved fingers.

Since capacity changes in these applications is very small, it’s critical to minimize the impact of noise and interference. Algorithms in the touchscreen controller can address these issues. For example, maXTouch controllers offer interference suppression that allow you to significantly reduce the number of sensor layers above the LCD screen. Post-processing functions also are integral to reliable operation, especially in different environmental conditions.

To learn more about automotive touch displays, read our full article, Capacitive Touch Technology Opens the Door to a New Generation of Automotive User Interfaces.

QTouch Capacitive Touch Controllers Receive UL Certification

Atmel has achieved certification for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 60730-1, a standard for automatic electrical controls for household and similar use, for the AT42QT1244/5 and AT42QT1481 capacitive touch controllers. With UL certification, household appliance OEMs can achieve system-level certification faster for products that include touch displays and controls developed with these devices.

Atmel is the first company to receive a functional safety certification for the Class B and C requirements related to control functions for ICs with capacitive touch capabilities for button, slider and wheel functionality. Our AT42QT1244/5 and AT42QT1481 controllers are ideal for appliances including stovetops, microwave ovens, coffee makers, washers and dryers.