Tag Archives: XSense

Atmel showcases AvantCar concept at CES 2014

Atmel is showcasing its AvantCar curved touch screen console concept at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. According to Atmel Marketing Director Stephan Thaler, the exhibit demonstrates the future of human machine interface (HMI) in upcoming vehicles.


“Today’s drivers are demanding richer user experiences in the automobile, similar to smart devices in the consumer market,” Thaler explained. 

“This includes capactive touchscreens, curved form factors, personalized color schemes and navigation menus via touch buttons and sliders. AvantCar addresses all these requirements with an advanced user interface in the center console to include [the latest] technologies.”

As Thaler notes, Atmel’s AvantCar concept demonstrates a fully functional center console highlighting two large curved touchscreen displays with no mechanical buttons. Instead, the touchscreens integrate capacitive touch buttons and sliders – allowing the user to navigate general applications typically found within an automotive center console including 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 vehicle environment via advanced touch capabilities and the automotive local interconnect network (LIN) connectivity system, enabling individuals to simply push a single button to alter the car’s ambient lighting.

The entire AvantCar center console is powered by Atmel technology, including the XSense touch sensor, maXTouch controller and QTouch, as well as automotive-qualified MCUs and LIN drivers for the ambient lighting control in the demonstrator.

Additional technical details are listed below:

  • Curved touchscreen display – XSense, Atmel’s highly flexible touch sensor, employing metal mesh technology, can be used on curved surfaces and edges, giving the console a sleeker, more elegant design. XSense also facilitates the replacement of mechanical switches or rotary knobs on the curved center console with moisture resistance and glove support for drivers in cold climates.
  • Large capacitive touch screens – AvantCar offers optimized touch performance using Atmel’s automotive-qualified maXTouch controllers that support touchscreens and touchpads up to 12 inches. maXTouch controllers provide faster response times, more accurate touches and lower power consumption than other solutions on the market today.
  • Proximity sensing and capacitive touch buttons and sliders – Atmel’s QTouch technology provides a more intuitive user interface, effectively replacing mechanical buttons or rotary knobs while adding capacitive proximity detection, all embedded in a single controller. Proximity sensing will detect the approaching hand and then control, for example, lights to turn on/off and the touchscreen backlight accordingly. This feature is also ideal for night time driving especially for GPS, radio control and thermostat checks.
  • Ambient lighting controls – Atmel’s LIN solutions, based on the company’s RF and automotive-qualified AVR MCUs, offer an ambient lighting control option for each driver to personalize car lighting.

“Atmel’s AvantCar is designed to show an avant-garde concept of what future car center consoles are likely to look like and how responsive they will be to a driver’s touch using advanced HMI interfaces,” added Thaler. “We are pioneering new ground with our technologies for the automotive segment and are thrilled to add more focus in this area for the upcoming years.”

The demo – designed in in conjunction with Germaneers GmbH – can be seen at Atmel’s Meeting Room #MP25958 located in the Lower Level of the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Please contact pr@atmel.com to schedule an appointment.

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.

Atmel @ CES 2014

Are you stopping by Atmel’s Technology Zones at CES 2014? This year, we will be showcasing our cutting-edge technology powering the latest devices in your living room, garage and Makerspace.

You can see the hottest smartphones, tablets, Ultrabooks, smart TVs, gaming, lighting, thermostats and more – powered by Atmel’s latest innovations. We’ll also be showcasing the industry’s first futuristic touch-centric curved automotive console powered by Atmel’s XSense and maXTouch.

Atmel Technology Zones


Atmel will be at the ZigBee Alliance Pavilion: Booth #20612.

You can check out our ZigBee Light Link demo controlled via wireless color lamps using Android and a Wi-Fi access point, along with our latest ZigBit modules and Xplained PRO boards.

Atmel Touch Technology

Be sure to visit the Touch Technology Zone to see the latest consumer devices powered by Atmel’s maXTouch.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel clinched a number of maXTouch wins in 2013, such as Xiaomi’s Mi3, Pantech’s VEGA LTE smartphones, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1″ 2014 Edition, LG Electronics G Pad 8.3 tablets and Sony’s new PlayStation Vita. 

2013 Windows 8.1 designs featuring maXTouch include Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 and RT, ASUS’ T100, UX300, X450, X550, and VivoTab TF810, Dell’s XPS12 Convertible and Latitude 7240, Lenovo’s Miix2 and Samsung’s ATIV Tab 3.

We’ll also be showing off XSense, a revolutionary new flexible touch sensor based on metal mesh. With its curved surfaces and edges, XSense opens a new world of possibilities for touch-based products across numerous segments, including consumer, automotive, industrial and medical markets.

Living Room

How many smart devices in your living room are powered by Atmel Wi-Fi, crypto and microcontroller and microprocessor technologies? Ask us, we’ll tell (and show) you!

Pit Stop

Did you know today’s vehicles are typically equipped with 50-100 microcontrollers? Check out Atmel’s innovative technologies powering the latest devices in your garage and car.


Atmel is at the heart of the DIY Maker community.

Powering nearly every desktop 3D printer and Arduino board on the market today, Atmel understands the importance of the rapidly growing Maker Movement. Visit our Maker stop and see the latest DIY creations based on Atmel AVR and ARM-based MCUs.

Atmel is building the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. In 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices; most of these were mobile phones, PCs and tablets. By 2020, there will be over 30 billion connected devices of far greater variety.

According to Gartner, 50% of companies expected to help build the rapidly evolving Internet of Things have yet to coalesce. This is precisely why Atmel views the Maker Movement as one of the primary tech incubators for future IoT companies and devices, many of which will undoubtedly use Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) to power their respective platforms.

MakerBot, which manufactures the Atmel-powered Replicator 3D printer, is a perfect example of a Maker-inspired company that emerged from nothing, yet was recently acquired for approximately $600 million by Stratasys. Adafruit, responsible for designing the Atmel-powered Gemma, Trinket and Flora platforms, is another example of a successful company started by Makers, for Makers. Of course, Atmel is also at the heart of multiple Arduino boards used by millions of Makers, engineers, schools and corporations all over the world.

There is a reason Atmel’s MCUs and MPUs are the silicon of choice for both Makers and industry heavyweights. Simply put, our low power sipping portfolio, which includes WiFi capability and extensive XSense integration options, is optimized for a wide variety of devices, ranging from IoT wearables to more stationary industrial platforms with connected capabilities such as smart grids and home appliance automation. Indeed, an IoT-enabled smart grid equipped with advance sensors offers huge energy savings, helping to create a green and sustainable future by conserving power and reducing water consumption.

Clearly, the age of IoT is already upon us. To be sure, over three-quarters of companies are now actively exploring or using the Internet of Things (IoT), with the vast majority of business leaders believing it will have a meaningful impact on how their companies conduct business. As noted above, the number of “things” predicted to be connected to the Internet by the end of this decade range from a staggering 30 billion to 50 billion.

According to Clint Witchalls, the Internet of Things is a quiet revolution that is steadily taking shape. Businesses across the world are piloting the use of the IoT to improve their internal operations, while preparing a stream of IoT-related products and services. Consumers might not (initially) recognize them as such, but that will not stop them from being launched, as few end users need to know that user-based car insurance, for example, is an IoT-based application.

From our perspective, the IoT represents one of the greatest potential growth markets for semiconductors over the next several years. That is precisely why Atmel remains focused on designing the absolute lowest power sipping products, particularly with regards to microcontrollers (MCUs) which offer maximum performance and meet the requirements of advanced applications. Atmel also offers highly integrated architecture optimized for high-speed connectivity, optimal data bandwidth and rich interface support – making our microcontrollers ideal for powering the smart, connected products at the heart of the IoT.

Atmel kicks off XSense design contest

Atmel recently kicked off its “Bend Your Mind XSense Design Contest.” We are searching for contestants from students to engineers, hobbyists, designers, fashionistas and more who want to stretch their imagination by submitting unique designs that utilize Atmel’s flexible XSense touch sensor.

Anyone who is a fan of Atmel’s Facebook page may submit an original design drawing with a photo on Atmel’s XSense Design Contest page. Contestants may also enter the technical design contest based on the design contest sensor specifications, with Facebook fans voting for their favorite design until June 2014. Final winners will be selected by Atmel judges, based on originality, creativity and uniqueness of the design.

Contestants are encouraged to share this contest and their designs with family, friends and colleagues, since public voting will be a considered an important factor in the final contest. Two first prize winners and two second prize winners will be chosen, with first prize winners receiving $1500 and second prize winners $500.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, 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. This means manufacturers now have the capability to build light-weight, sleek, edgeless smartphones, tablets and other touch-enabled devices. XSense is currently shipping in production from Atmel’s Colorado Springs (CSO) facility after achieving Windows 8 certification.

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.

Infographic: tracing the touchscreen back to the future

Just a few decades ago, touchscreen technology could only be found in science fiction books and film. However, touchscreens have become so ubiquitous that, today, most children believe displays lacking touch-based interactivity are broken.

Interestingly, the underlying technology for touchscreens can actually be traced back to the 1940s, although they weren’t even remotely physically feasible until at least 1965 when E.A. Johnson of the United Kingdom came up with what historians generally consider the very first finger-driven touchscreen. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1982 that the first human-controlled multitouch device was developed at the University of Toronto by Nimish Mehta.

It’s worth noting, at this juncture, that as humans, we have a particular fondness for touch.

Touch is apparently the first sense to develop in humans and may also be the last to fade. We’re also highly sensitive creatures, with five million touch receptors in our skin – 3,000 alone in a finger tip.

The infographic below outlines some of the more historic milestones in touchscreen history, along with some of the wackiest. For example, did you know the world’s largest touch screen is 10 meters long and can accept up to 100 multi-touch inputs at one time? No? Well you do now. This particular screen was developed by a group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Similarly, the “coolest” touchscreen ever made was developed by a Nokia Research Center team in Finland in 2010. Bringing a whole new meaning to “freeze frame,” Nokia created a 6.5 foot by 4.9 foot ice wall of touch.

Atmel_August Auto_Final

Of course Atmel has a few milestones of its own when it comes to touch. The firm snapped up Quantum Research Group Ltd., a developer of capacitive sensing IP, in 2008 and has been making its presence felt in the world of touchscreens ever since.

More recently, Atmel successfully developed, manufactured and shipped XSense, which can best be described as a high-performance, highly flexible touch sensor on extremely bendable, flexible plastic, allowing engineers to design devices with curved surfaces.

What’s the big deal about curves, you ask? Well, aside from them being sexier (ask any woman you know), curved screens actually cause a series of optical effects that result in improved contrast, color accuracy, readability, and overall image quality — especially under ambient light.

Another benefit of a curved screen is privacy, because when content is viewed from an off-center angle the content on screen is less visible.

Atmel’s XSense also allows for super accurate handwriting recognition with a stylus, which is useful if your handwriting is anywhere as bad as mine.

And, best of all, XSense is made right here in the USA; designed and manufactured in California and Colorado Springs.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you have a creative idea about what you’d do with a bendable, flexible touchscreen, why not enter our XSense design contest here for a chance to win $1500.

Bend your mind with Atmel’s XSense contest

We all know that bendable, flexible touchscreens are the future, and here at Atmel, we consider ourselves to be riding the crest of that curve with XSense, our high-performance, ultra-flexible touch sensor which allows for some crazy shaped, touch-able devices.

Go to any tech website today, and you’ll see the same ol’, same ol’ curved touchscreen phones and tablets. Cool stuff, but we can’t help feeling there’s got to be something more creative out there.

That’s why we’re inviting you to push past previous touch boundaries and create curved, pliable surfaces for anything you could imagine.


Sure, we have some ideas about how WE would use curved, flexible touchscreens. We want to hear what YOU would build with touch unleashed.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity on this one, folks, so go crazy!

The top 10 creative ideas get automatically entered to become finalists and eligible for a grand prize of $1500!

But, better yet, if you reckon you could actually build whatever it is you’ve just thought up, there’s extra prize money on the line.

While you don’t need technical expertise to win our creative contest, if your design is built firmly around our Atmel Design Contest Sensor Specifications, you could win our XSense technical design contest for an additional $1500.

Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you can just browse other people’s designs and vote for your favorite. Easy!

Sir Mix A Lot hearts Atmel swag

Last week, the Atmel social team engaged in a bit of rap battle banter with our friends from Mouser Electronics and… of all people… Sir Mix A Lot.

Chiming in with some chipper rap rhymes, SMA, Anthony Ray, proved he had mad maker skillz to go with his other more famous talents. Taking advantage of the fact that Ray was performing in San Francisco Friday night, Atmel went to see the show, and bring some hardcore hardware swag for our new favorite bit banger.

Ray has some rather forward thinking ideas of his own when it comes to tech. Talking bendable, flexible touchscreens with Atmel backstage at the show, he showed a keen interest in creating the world’s first interactive full body music armor, as well as mixing decks that could be sliced and diced without impairing functionality. Imagine Mix’s surprise when we told him XSense, Atmel’s bleeding edge touch sensor product, could be just what he was looking for!

Check out some photos of Sir Mix A Lot with his Atmel goodies below:

image imagemix imagemix2 imagemix4 imagemix5

Electronics Weekly talks Atmel touch chips

Earlier this week, Atmel expanded its popular maXTouch T lineup of touchscreen controllers with the mXT640T, mXT336T and mXT224T. The new devices offer a comprehensive set of features, supporting next-gen mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets and mid-size tablets with touchscreens ranging from 3.2”-8.3.”

In covering the launch, Steve Bush of Electronics Weekly (EW) noted that there are now 20 DACs taking data off 20 sense wires followed by parallel processing, compared with 18 wires multiplexed onto fewer ADCs before. In addition, having moved to a 130nm process for the new chips, there was also room for Atmel to replace the 8-bit processor with a 32-bit AVR core.

“It is a lot more power efficient and has a lot more processing capability for a lot more intelligence: large finger detection, palm rejection, water rejection and charger noise immunity,” Atmel product marketing manager Tony Xia told Electronics Weekly. “And it can work with xSense, our scheme to use fine copper wires to replace ITO.”

As well as replacing increasingly hard to get ITO (indium tim oxide), xSense reduces sense line impedance, allowing the wire to be charged and read faster. Simply put, with more sense cycles in a fixed time, statistical processing can reduce the effective signal-to-noise ratio.

“Charger noise rejection is actually a combination of better numerical processing, actively hopping the read frequency away from the charger band, and analogue processing,” Xia explained.

In terms of interacting with water and gloves, Xia confirmed there “is no impairment” for condensation with a finger.

“[Similarly, with] wet hands from washing, there is no problem; up to a few drops, there is no false touch,” he stated. “[Plus], a lot of smartphones today won’t work with gloves at all. [In contrast], ours worked well with 20 different gloves we were presented with on one customer visit.”

Lastly, said Xia, passive styluses no longer need to be conductive and in electrical contact with the user.

“We tried it with a cheap mechanical pencil with an 0.5mm lead and it worked,” he added.

Carclo and Atmel: Transforming the mobile market

This week, touch screen developer Carclo told the Yorkshire Post that it is well positioned to meet the requirements for the expected ramp up in XSense, the touch screen sensor launched by US business partner Atmel.

“Full-scale manufacture of coated film to support the XSense program has started,” the Yorkshire Post reported. “Carclo [confirmed] that XSense is to be adopted in a number of products launched across a range of tier 1 manufacturers during the second half of its financial year.”

Atmel’s XSense can probably best be described as a high-performance, highly flexible touch sensor which allows engineers to design devices with curved surfaces and functionality along product edges. Based on a proprietary roll-to-roll metal mesh technology, XSense touch sensors provide a clear alternative to existing touch sensors. Simply put, manufacturers can now build light-weight, sleek, edgeless smartphones, tablets and other touch-enabled devices with extremely versatile form factors.

“Consumers are demanding more robust and advanced touch-based products with larger screens and longer battery life,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “However, traditional touch sensor solutions have a difficult time standing up to these new market requirements because of their brittle nature. In contrast, XSense is a flexible, film-based touch sensor with such advantages as flawless touch performance, enhanced noise immunity, low sheet resistance and low power consumption.”

Key XSense specs include:

  • Highly accurate stylus performance (active or passive)
  • Support for larger touchscreens
  • Flexibility – for curved surfaces
  • Narrow border – for larger active screen areas
  • Narrow bond area – for optimized device reliability
  • Low sheet resistance for better noise immunity and lower power

“In short, XSense kicks off a new era of touch design – enabling manufacturers to redefine touch and create an entirely new class of products,” the Atmel engineering rep added. “Combined with Atmel’s maXTouch controllers, we provide a completely optimized, unparalleled touch experience, extending our product portfolio deeper into the touch eco-system.”