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Mixed-signal IC ready for cordless pens

Posted: 30 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wacom technology? mixed-signal ic? w8002? austriamicrosystems? w8001?

Wacom Technology Corp. will introduce a mixed-signal IC designed for the company's inductive-pen sensing system. The W8002 chip is intended specifically for Wacom's newest "ultraslim" cordless and battery-free pen, which uses only an inductor and capacitor in a tank circuit. The pen is used in conjunction with a sensor grid.

Joseph Deal, president and CEO of Wacom said that the chip, designed with austriamicro, is a follow-on to the 8-bit W8001. It collects three-dimensional information from the sensor grid and uses proprietary transform algorithms to digitize that data.

The pen will invoke a cursor on the display before it touches the surface of the LCD, as soon as it enters the electromagnetic-field region of the sensor grid. When it touches the display, the width of the line it draws is directly related to pressure. Deal said that Wacom's LCD-based sensor grid can be designed at price parity with thin-film-transistor displays.

While earlier chip/grid combinations were designed for tablet PCs, the W8002 is aimed at smart phones and PDAs. The sensor network is based on a PCB with copper tracks that implement a series of overlapping antenna coils, backed with a magnetic reflector to enhance the field.

Since the sensor is embedded behind the display, the screen is durable and can transmit 100 percent of luminous-backlight systems, Wacom said. The controller chip enables such advanced functions as application zooming and digital signature recognition.

The chip is packaged in a 64- or 84-lead BGA, with the pinout depending on sensor board size and form factor. Wacom will offer the chip in volume in the fourth quarter, bundled with ultraslim pens and a range of custom and standard-size antenna grid pc boards.

- Loring Wirbel

EE Times

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