Tag Archives: touch sensor

Does your smartphone’s touchscreen support moisture touch?

Recently, I met an Atmel maXTouch customer whose smartphone brand is well recognized by consumers in West and East Africa, competing against smartphones made by global brands like Samsung and Nokia. When the customer selected our touchscreen controller for their smartphone product, they needed two features that were very important for African consumers: robust moisture performance and strong noise immunity. This is hardly a surprise as many African countries have unreliable power supplies, and surge protection is important for electronic devices; additionally, the warm climates in most African countries make robust moisture performance a basic requirement for touchscreen controllers to handle sweaty fingers, palms and faces. When the touchscreen controller has trouble in combating charger noise or moisture presence on the touchscreen, a symptom called “ghost touch” would occur – in other words, when the touchscreen automatically triggers a false touch without the presence of a finger contact at that specific location.


With Adaptive Sensing technology, Atmel’s maXTouch T-series scans the touchscreen of a smartphone using both mutual-capacitance and self-capacitance sensing.


Mutual-capacitance enables true multi-finger touch operations, such as multi-finger gestures and rotations used in gaming apps. However, self-capacitance sensing is much less sensitive to the presence of moisture or water droplets than mutual-capacitance. Atmel’s Adaptive Sensing technology combines the analog signals of both self-capacitance and mutual-capacitance, allowing the embedded maXTouch microcontroller to intelligently determine moisture presence through obvious differences in both measurement deltas for corresponding touch locations. As seen in the example below, here a maXTouch device combines both set of signals to eliminate false touch (a.k.a. ghost touch) typically associated with the presence of moisture on a touchscreen.

Self Cap Measurement - TouchI should point out that a smartphone with an excellent water-resistant rating does NOT necessarily mean that it has a robust moisture performance for its touchscreen. Here is a tidbit of consumer feedback on a premium smartphone with IP58 rating:


In comparison, the OEM customer designs smartphones for African consumers that can offer excellent touch performance with the presence of moisture, thanks to our maXTouch T-series. The maXTouch mXT640T series of touchscreen controllers dynamically switches into a Self-Capacitance based single-touch mode when touches are detected in the presence of significant water. This meaning, the normal touch functionality of a mXT640T touchscreen will be maintained for as long as possible before eventually switching to a single touch operation to maintain reliable operation and prevent false touch conditions. The picture below illustrates how we set the bar for superior water/moisture performance in the market:


All in all, a touchscreen powered by Atmel’s maXTouch T-series controllers can support true multi-finger operations with the presence of moisture. Even in a rainy condition where water falls down to your smartphone, the system dynamically maintains reliable touch operations and prevents false touches, so that when you press a speed-dial for Uber in the rain, your phone will not innocently call your ex-girlfriend instead.


And the Bend Your Mind XSense Design Contest winners are…

Back in December 2013, Atmel kicked off its global Bend Your Mind XSense Design Contest, where 
participants ranging from students to fashionistas were encouraged to stretch their imagination by submitting drawings unique designs utilizing Atmel’s flexible XSense touch sensor. Four winners — two first place and two second place — were ultimately selected by Atmel judges, based on originality, creativity and uniqueness of the designs, with winners receiving cash rewards.

Contest winners included:

  • Technical Grand Prize Winner: Joseph Malkom, NewGen
  • Technical Runner Up:  Andi Hidayatullah, Wrist Curved Tablet 
  • Creative Grand Prize Winner: Raghu Vamsi, Touchscreen ID Card 
  • Creative Runner Up: Arun Magesh, Rollable Laptops

“The devices and technological use cases seen in the ‘Bend Your Mind XSense Design Contest’ is yet a glimpse into the innovation and creativity that we see in today’s market,” explained Sander Arts, Atmel’s VP of Marketing. “Atmel congratulates all of the contestants and is thrilled to see such imaginative uses for XSense technology. With XSense’s flexibility and high-performance capabilities, the future of innovation is bright when creative minds have the technology to turn vision into reality.”

Joseph Malkom 

“Using the XSense touch sensor, this design can be used in the medical world. I got this inspiration after my grandmother had a small needle stuck in her foot and the doctor used three different xrays wrapped around her leg in order to pinpoint the exact location of the needle in her foot. However, by using this screen, doctors can have a 3D view of bones, veins and nerves, and can pinpoint exact locations of injuries. Moreover, by being able to change the view from bones to veins and nerves, they can prevent creating serious injuries, like accidentally cutting into a major vein. By using fiduciary markers, physicians can pinpoint the exact location of an object even if the patient changes their position. As there is a metal stand at the bottom supporting the flexible screen, the PCB can reside inside there.”


Andi Hidayatullah

“The idea of this design is to make a “wrist curved tablet” using combination of XSense and flexible OLED display as a curved touchscreen… It can be used by people in their jobs or activities while it’s not necessary to stop what they are doing or unable to take care the device.”


Raghu Vamsi 

“My idea is to provide some additional features to an ID card.”


Atmel XSense is a revolutionary, highly flexible film-based touch sensor that enables a new generation of smartphones and tablets, and extends touch capabilities into a wide array of new consumer and industrial products. Optimal for a broad range of touchscreen products, XSense enables thinner, lighter and faster touch products. XSense creates flawless touch performance, enhanced noise immunity, low sheet resistance and low-power consumption allowing designers to turn unique touch-based concepts into functional designs at lower total system costs compared to current market alternatives.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s XSense? You can check out our Bits & Pieces article archive on the subject here.

Atmel’s XSense hits EEWeb

Atmel’s XSense is a high-performance, highly flexible touch sensor which allows engineers to design devices with curved surfaces and even add functionality along product edges. Essentially, this means manufacturers now have the capability to build light-weight, sleek, edgeless smartphones, tablets and other touch-enabled devices.


Recently, Atmel’s XSense was featured in an EEWeb article, with the publication describing the technology as the “next step” in touchscreen product evolution.

“XSense is a roll-to-roll metal mesh technology that can achieve high performance touch sensing capabilities on a seemingly endless variety of curved or flexible surface,” the article explained. 

“With XSense already in production, OEMs have already started implementing it in the next generation of disruptive, touch-enabled devices.”

EEWeb also noted that XSense’s extremely light, thin and power features can be implemented in thinner mobile devices, curved and and contoured screens as well as edgeless designs for consumer touch-enabled devices.

“The overall thinness of this touchscreen film allows for superior clarity on the device display, low sheet resistance and low power consumption, allowing for numerous benefits for implementation,” the publication concluded.

“XSense also allows for thinner sensor stacks within the device, meaning that not only is the display twice as thin as average touchscreen sense film, but that the device itself can be reduced in size.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Jennifer Colegrove, who owns Touch Display Research in Santa Clara, Calif., estimates the potential market for XSense and similar technologies will increase from $200 million this year to $4 billion by 2020, primarily for tablet computers and other larger mobile devices. Similarly, Hans Mosesmann, a technology analyst for Raymond James & Associates, says the market for touchscreen sensors will grow at an annual rate of 44 percent during the next three years to about $10 billion due to its lower cost, size and performance.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s XSense technology? You can check out the official XSense page here and read about Atmel’s recently launched XSense contest here.