Bluetooth Smart specialist CSR says it has developed the industry’s thinnest wireless touch interface. The flexible device—less than 0.5 mm thick—combines CSR’s low-power wireless technology with printable, flexible electronics and touchscreen sensing (see the figure). The interface will be used to extend the touch interface of tablets and smartphones.
When equipped with Bluetooth Smart technology, low-power devices and sensors are able to connect to the latest smartphones and tablets. The technology, launched with the Bluetooth 4.0 specification, also enables low-power radio.
As the name implies, Bluetooth low energy facilitates ultra-low-power connectivity and basic data transfer for applications previously limited by power consumption, size constraints, and the complexity of other wireless standards. Bluetooth Smart also helps in the development of combined applications and accessories without the need for a specific profile. Innovators can build new products that work seamlessly with smartphones.
Adopted in Windows 8 as the standard for low power HID (Human Interface Device) accessories, consumers can benefit from long battery life. Furthermore, there’s no need to install drivers or clog USB ports with dongles.
CSR's wireless touch interface device can be integrated into a protective cover or used to create large touch zones on a desktop. The paper-thin surface connects wirelessly via the recently launched CSR1010 chip, part of the company’s µEnergy range. Specific enhancements on first-generation platforms include increased memory for advanced and more flexible application space.
The new platform’s 128 kbytes of memory doubles the amount of memory compared to its previous version. On top of that, there’s six times the customer application space.
CSR partnered with Atmel and Conductive Inkjet Technology (CIT) to develop the ultra-thin wireless touch surface. The device uses Atmel’s touch silicon to sense multiple contact points on a surface, and can provide a full touch surface or power-optimized key detection. The membrane is enabled by CIT printed conductors.
When using CIT’s direct reel-to-reel printing process, copper and other conductors can be applied to the surface of the ultra-thin and flexible membrane and subsequently printed to fit a range of smartphones and tablet shapes and sizes. Touch latency is minimized to less than 12 ms, ensuring near instant visual feedback and providing a seamless user experience.
CIT’s low-cost printing processes add flexibility in the creation of low-current and signal-carrying circuitry thanks to single-layer direct digital printing. The copper metal circuitry is soldered using low-temperature solders, which allows for direct placement of connectors and components onto the circuitry. CIT says it’s creating new processes that will boost capacity and expand capabilities to reach a wider range of applications.
The touch interface development follows Google’s and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s joint announcement that Android will include native support for Bluetooth Smart Ready and Bluetooth Smart devices in the next version of its operating system. This means 75% of smartphones will be able to integrate seamlessly with many of Bluetooth Smart Ready devices.