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Touch sensors target transparent user interfaces

Posted: 01 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touchscreen interface? touch sensor? handheld device?

Synaptics has released its ClearTouch product portfolioClearPad and ClearArray sensorsfor a wide range of consumer electronics that require transparent touch-sensitive user interfaces.

The company claims that the ClearTouch products are designed for durability, low power consumption, and easy integration. They enable attractive and intuitive user interfaces to meet the rigorous needs of consumer electronics. Patented ClearPad technology builds on the capacitive touch sensing technology used in over 400 million TouchPad devices. Synaptics has over a decade of experience in clear, two-dimensional, capacitive touch sensing. All ClearTouch solutions can operate under glass or plastic, resulting in robust devices with slim form factors and sleek industrial designs.

ClearPad sensor was the key feature in Synaptics' Onyx concept touchscreen phone demonstrated in August 2006. ClearPad offers a robust, intuitive, and high-resolution touchscreen interface solution for today's mobile devicesincluding cellphones, portable music players and handheld GPS devices.

On the other hand, ClearArray interface solutions support buttons and scrolling in fixed locations over a display, a cost-optimized touchscreen solution. ClearArray sensors can even be used in monitors and kiosk-style devices as an alternative to mechanical buttons. These transparent sensors enable manufacturers to differentiate their products according to their target price point, industrial design requirements, and the desired end-user experience.

Capacitive vs. resistive
Resistive touchscreens respond to pressure. When a user presses the screen, a top layer of flexible material makes contact with the lower layer to indicate the location of the user's finger or stylus. The mechanical flexing of a resistive sensor reduces its durability and the air gap affects optical quality. Resistive interfaces also require frequent end-user calibration.

Capacitive solutions such as Synaptics ClearTouch use a grid of conductive traces implemented on a clear substrate such as polyethylene terephthalate film or glass to accurately report one or more finger positions and relative pressure on a sensor. Synaptics ClearTouch solutions offer superior optics, are solid state, and require no end-user calibration.

As the number and sophistication of handheld applications proliferate, touchscreen technology is a "must have" for future devices. With multimedia- and communication-rich functionality, handheld devices require innovative interface technology to make accessing and managing applications and content easy for the end user. ClearTouch solutions unlock the potential of advanced devices with a lot of functionality through an intuitive interface that the average user can use without reading a manual.

Synaptics ClearPad solution also includes integral detection of gestures such as single-finger tap, double tap, tap and hold, tap and slide, press, flick as well as two-finger pinch.

Synaptics ClearTouch solutions are available to device manufacturers.

- Clive Maxfield
Programmable Logic DesignLine

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