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MCU family brings touch sensing to appliances

Posted: 03 Nov 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touch sense  microcontroller  MCU  human interface 

Silicon Laboratories Inc. brings to market a family of MCUs that claim the industry's fastest capacitive touch sense capability. Leveraging Silicon Labs' patent-pending sensing technology, the C8051F800 MCU family makes it easy for developers to add sophisticated touch sense interfaces to a wide range of consumer and industrial electronics products. It is suited for STBs, residential light controls, thermostat controls, home security panels, commercial point-of-sale interfaces, portable electronic devices and small appliances.

The F800 MCU family features a patent-pending capacitance-to-digital converter (CDC) that enables best-in-class touch sensing in end products. The high-resolution CDC, which features a 40µs acquisition time combined with a 25 MIPS CPU, provides sophisticated and highly responsive touch sense functions to replace mechanical buttons, sliders and wheels. Advanced 16bit resolution enables the CDC and firmware to compensate for changes in geometry and laminates that may occur between prototyping and production, making the F800 MCUs accurate but forgiving and improving end-product reliability. The CDC requires very little CPU overhead, allowing the MCU to perform other tasks and improving system efficiency.

Most electronic systems are being optimised to reduce power consumption, which is often a challenge when adding features like touch sensing. The F800 offers an innovative wake-on-touch capability, enabling the MCU to be placed in power-saving modes, yet wake quickly upon a touch sense event, ultimately saving overall system power.

The F800 touch sense MCU family is supported by the QuickSense Studio, a common development environment for all of the QuickSense devices including the F700 high-pin count touch sense MCUs and the Si1102/Si1120 proximity and ambient light sensors. The QuickSense Studio configuration wizard allows designers, using an intuitive software GUI, to select which functions they want implemented such as capacitive touch sense buttons, sliders and wheels, and then easily auto-generate the software to set up and calibrate these functions. Designers can also test their implementation and review a graphical display of the system performance.

"Silicon Labs' touch sense MCU family delivers accurate and fast performance along with a host of features that reduce system cost and improve reliability in space-constrained applications," said Mark Thompson, VP and general manager of Silicon Laboratories. "When paired with our infrared sensors, our touch sense MCUs also enable smart motion sensing and deliver power savings, which translates into longer battery life and improved system efficiency. Supported by a common development environment, the QuickSense devices enable designers to quickly and reliably add advanced human interface features to their end products."

The QuickSense F800 touch sense MCUs are supported by a low-cost development kit, the C8051F800DK. Priced at Rs.4,881.05 ($99.99), the kit includes everything required to immediately begin system design including the QuickSense Studio, IDE, target board, cables and power supply.

The F800 is available now in an SOIC16, QFN20 or QSOP24 package. Pricing begins at Rs.76.15 ($1.56) in 10k quantities depending on pin out.

For application notes and technical articles on microcontrollers, visit Embedded Design India.

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