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Capacitive touch panel IP geared for HMI devices

18 Jul 2014

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Renesas Electronics Corp. has developed a novel IP that the company said implements industry-leading capacitive touch sensing technology aimed at home appliances and healthcare equipment, such as blood pressure and blood glucose meters. The IP achieves high-touch sensitivity five times superior compared to that of Renesas' R8C/3xT MCUs, as well as high-noise immunity allowing the technology to pass strict noise tests, detailed the company.

For the first time, Renesas IP supports the mutual capacitance method that is more reliable and versatile than the common self-capacitance method. The company will also provide development tools to make application development easier.

For human machine interface (HMI) applications for electric and electronic equipment, touch-key interfaces have been the subject of increasing attention. The use of capacitive touch technology is being rapidly adopted because it can easily improve reliability in product design, and enhance the end-user experience. In fact, system manufacturers are now developing new touch interfaces with a curved surface, instead of the flat panels that have been mainstream up to now. Looking ahead, touch-sensing technologies with even higher sensitivity and noise immunity will become highly desirable for a wider range of applications.

For home appliances used in the kitchen, it is often the case that the appliance will be splashed with water or the user will be wearing gloves. Furthermore, there is also equipment, such as IH stoves, that emit strong electromagnetic fields. This means that a technology that achieves both high sensitivity and high noise immunity at the same time is required to reliably respond to the static capacitance when such end products are operated by the user's hand.

The Renesas IP not only offers high-noise immunity, but also provides characteristics that allow reliable sensing even with acrylic panels with thicknesses in excess of 10mm. The technology can implement flexible designs, for example products that implement curved panels. Furthermore, since this IP enables a high-level of touch sensitivity, it can expand the range of scenarios for consumer interaction such as gloved hands and proximity sensing where there is no actual touch. In addition, since the IP passes the strict electromagnetic noise testing stipulated in the IEC 61000-4-3 and IEC 61000-4-6 standards, it enables the design of robust systems even under noisy conditions.

Because the IP supports the mutual capacitance method, it is easier to implement moisture proofing measures in end products, so that false detections do not occur even if there is water on the touch key area. The IP also supports embedding touch keys in a matrix configuration to eliminate false ghost detections, a phenomenon associated with devices implementing the self-capacitance method. This allows the number of touch keys to be increased with minimal number of pins.

Renesas plans to provide a development environment that maintains compatibility with the existing Renesas tool chain while improving ease of use for its customers.

The touch panel IP is also being positioned by the company in any field where longevity and reliability are required such as factory automation and home security.

Samples of Renesas' MCUs incorporating the static capacitive touch panel IP will be available during the fiscal year 2014. (Availability is subject to change without notice.)

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