Multitouch Sensor Brings Flexibility To Design

April 13, 2012
Atmel is know for its maXTouch chips but now it is moving into the the sensor side with its flexible XSense technology.

Based on a proprietary roll-to-roll metal mesh technology, Atmel’s XSense capacitive touch sensor supports edgeless designs that eliminate the bezels normally found on the periphery of smart phones and tablets. A single sensor can be wrapped around devices to provide a multitouch interface for the main display as well as the controls on the side (Fig. 1). Plus, the sensor doesn’t have to be rectangular. This will change the way devices are designed.

1. Atmel’s XSense sensor can bend, allowing a single sensor to act as an edgeless touch surface and provide controls on the side of a device.

The XSense sensor is delivered on a flexible roll (Fig. 2). Atmel’s maXTouch controller chips support XSense, but the technology also works with most multitouch sensor chips from third parties. The sensor provides enhanced noise immunity, low sheet resistance, and low power consumption. It also works with most existing display technologies. Typical resolution for a 4.3-inch display is more than 1000 dots/inch (DPI).

2. Atmel’s XSense material is flexible, enabling it to mesh with different underlying topologies.

The XSense could provide a bendable display when it’s coupled with similar technology like E Ink’s bendable ePaper. Further, the sensor can be laminated over a range of items to provide button support underneath a display it covers. It provides multitouch support as well, reducing the number of components and interface requirements. Additional protective covering can protect it in more rugged environments such as automotive applications.

The XSense’s very narrow bond area improves device reliability and simplifies designs. It can allow smaller bezels on some devices and reduce overall system cost. The low sheet resistance reduces power consumption and improves noise immunity.

Atmel adds the sensor mask to a base film and delivers a roll of sensors to panel makers, which laminate and bond the sensors, adding displays and covers. These flexible sensors significantly change the options available to designers. Curved displays may move from the exception to the norm.


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