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Touch screen controllers handle multiple touches

Posted: 14 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touch screen  controller  interface  sensor 

Atmel Corp. has unveiled a new family of capacitive touch screen controller solutions. The company announced the production release of the maXTouch platform that is capable of supporting an unlimited number of unique simultaneous touches with a video-quality screen refresh rate of 250Hz. It supports the development of touch screens over 10 inches with full zoom, rotate, handwriting and shape recognition functionality. Featuring Atmel's patented charge transfer technology, the solution enhances the traditional mutual and self-capacitance solutions, effectively tripling the industry's highest performance touch screen solutions.

The maXTouch solutions have been developed to provide uncompromising capacitive touch capability combined with what is claimed to be the lowest power consumption and unsurpassed configurability to exceed user interface requirements. The first device in the family, the mXT224, has 224 nodes that allow it to accurately report the positions of unlimited, simultaneous touches and it can completely redraw the screen every 4ms. The mXT224's large number of nodes and fast performance makes it suitable for advanced touch screen functionality, such as rejection of unintended touches, stretch/pinch and rotate gestures, handwriting and shape recognition such as face detection on mobile phones, mobile Internet devices and netbook screens surpassing 10 inches.

By integrating the entire capacitive sensing circuitry on-chip, these maXTouch products provide a fully integrated single-chip solution without the need for external components to support the capacitive sensing, minimising the cost and PCB footprint requirements. Multiple mXT224 touch screen solutions can be used to provide smaller interspatial distances between touches on larger screens. Products using the advanced mXT224 touch screen solution are currently progressing in design at several leading handset, netbook and other consumer product OEMs.

"By 2013, worldwide demand for touch screen modules will exceed Rs.31,113.35 crore ($6.4 billion), making touch interfaces the fastest growing segment in the displays industry. Multi-touch solutions are delivering significant advantages across a broad range of applications, and Atmel appears to have a compelling product for a very hot market. We'll definitely be watching as they roll it out," said Joe Abelson, VP for displays research at iSuppli Corp.

The mXT224 is the first capacitive touch screen solution able to support not just finger touch but also stylus, fingernails and gloves for drawing or signature capture and character recognition, thanks to its 80:1 SNR and extremely fast refresh rate. A high SNR is critical for the accurate reporting of adjacent or weak signals, and allows for precise reporting in noisy environments such as products with noise coupled from radio transceivers, LCD displays and battery chargers. Solutions without a suitably high SNR consume more power and decrease their response time with extra filtering and processing in an attempt to extract a weak signal from a high noise environment. In contrast, the nearest competing off-the-shelf touch screen solution has half as many nodes as the mXT224, a screen refresh rate of only 83Hz (66 per cent slower) and an SNR of only 25:1 (66 per cent less). In addition to offering the best SNR rates in the market, maXTouch offers advanced noise suppression algorithms to provide end products with the ultimate immunity against coupled noise issues.

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