Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (8-1-11): MCUs get in touch with capacitive sensing - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (8-1-11): MCUs get in touch with capacitive sensing


Embedded Newsletter for 08-01-11

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August 8, 2011

Tech Focus: MCUs get in touch with capacitive sensing


Waking up a capacitive touch-sensing device with an MCU peripheral

Getting in touch with capacitance sensor algorithms

Making capacitive touch sensors water tolerant

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

According to several recent Embedded Market Surveys, 65 to 70 percent of the developers who responded said they use more than one microprocessor or microcontroller in a single design, but only 4 to 7 percent used multiple cores on a single chip. Whether that is due to the lack of appropriate multicore software development tools is a question that is still being debated.

But another factor may be that in a number of applications – such as capacitive touch screens and sensors – multiple dedicated single-chip MCUs are used simply because integration into a single multicore would lead to degradation of the deterministic and real-time performance required.

With the touch screen and panel market growing at about 30 percent a year , embedded developers have responded with a wealth of innovative dedicated single MCU designs, and are now looking beyond the mobile and tablet markets to a variety of mechanical switch applications that can be replaced with capacitive sensor interfaces. In addition to a number of white papers and webinars, 14 design articles on such apps are included in this newsletter. Of these, my Editor’s Top Picks are:

Using projected capacitive displays to create gesture interfaces
Adding proximity sensing to your next embedded design
The mechanics of capacitive touch sensor interfaces

The consumer electronics touch screen market is only one of many market segments where MCU-based capacitive sensor interfaces can be used. A few examples are stove controls, thermostats, house lighting, and alarm clocks, as well as automotive and industrial designs.

Let me hear from you. I am here to help you tell your design story to the embedded developer community.

Design How-Tos

Waking up a capacitive touch-sensing device with an MCU peripheral

When a capacitive touch screen goes into sleep or standby mode to save energy, how can you design the system to wake up quickly without degrading its performance or burning a lot of power. Here are two options: a traditional method and a new MCU-based method.

Making capacitive touch sensors water tolerant

In this Product How-To article, Mark Lee of Cypress uses the company's CY8C21434 PSoC to explain the methods by which to integrate water tolerant capacitive sensors into consumer white goods where operation in wet environments is important.

Getting in touch with capacitance sensor algorithms

Learn about the role of capacitance measurement algorithms in multi-touch sensing user interfaces.

Performance versus power in capacitive touch sensing designs

This article discusses some standard capacitive sensing elements and applications with a focus on balancing power consumption and response time in the design of capacitive sensing interfaces.

Product How-To: The mechanics of capacitive touch sensor interfaces

Atmel's Steve Berry describes the basics of capacitive sensing technologies and how to use the company's Qtouch Studio 4.3 to build GUIs with the equivalent of mechanical buttons, sliders and wheels.

Why you need to use capacitive touch panels in your GUI design

The broad range of performance characteristics for projected capacitive (PCAP) touch panels makes the technology a great fit for many embedded applications requiring a responsive and industrial strength, user interface.

Using projected capacitive displays to create durable gesture-based touch screen interfaces

How projected capacitive technology can be applied to touch screens in embedded apps where the harshness of the environment might wreak havoc on older resistive touch screens.

Bringing reliable touch sensor technology to handheld, mobile devices

With no moving parts and easy conformity to curved surfaces, touch-sensor switches can be used for every thing from automotive, industrial and home control apps to mobiles and handhelds, requiring the use of wide-temperature-qualified touch-sensor controllers that operational under many environmental conditions.

Adding proximity sensing to your next embedded design

The use of Proximity sensing in consumer electronic devices has proven to add a “coolness” factor to the device apart from being functionally useful, making it a worthwhile consideration to give designs a competitive edge.

Dealing with touch sensitive areas of graphical objects

Niall Murphy explores various algorithms for establishing the exact point of intended touch on an GUI and whether those touches should be applied to an object at or near that location

Mechanical vs. digital: a GUI isn't always the answer

User interface design is not always an either/or decision.

Integrate a capacitive sensor into your handset, Part I

Designing in a capacitive interface can increase functionality and enhance the user experience.

Intuitive HMI designs – microcontroller solutions optimized for touch and display control

There is an increasing demand to improve the human machine interface (HMI) design with innovative touch control to make it more intuitive, robust and cost efficient. With inTouch Infineon provides cost-effective and optimized microcontroller solutions for fast time-to-market HMI designs.

Differentiating noise from real touch: the key to robust capacitive sensing

Noise and false triggers can severely affect capacitive sensing interfaces; understand its manifestations and what you can do about it.

Embedded Systems Bookshelf


Embedded Books Reading Room
Bernard Cole's favorite links to book excerpts.


Engineer's Bookshelf
Airport fiction blows. A look at books other engineers are reading and why you should read them, too. Recommend and write a review yourself. E-mail Brian Fuller.

Jack Ganssle's Bookshelf
A list of book reviews by Jack Ganssle, contributing technical editor of Embedded Systems Design and Embedded.com.

Max's Cool Beans
Clive “Max” Maxfield, the editor on Programmable Logic DesignLine, often writes about interesting books.


Atmel Sensors Xplained software drivers speed design development

Atmel Corporation has integrated its new Sensors Xplained software drivers with the recently-launched AVR Studio 5 Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Cypress announces breakthrough feature for TrueTouch touchscreen controllers

Manufacturers of handsets, GPS systems, cameras, and other mobile systems can offer benefits of capacitive touchscreens at resistive touchscreen costs (approximately 30% reduction in cost).

Renesas MCUs integrate capacitive touch sensor

The R8C/3NT group of microcontrollers from Renesas Electronics integrate on a single chip a capacitive touch sensor circuit and a flash MCU making them suitable for products such as smartphones, mobile phones, e-book readers, digital cameras, and handheld game consoles.

Cypress' capacitive-sensing controller cuts design time

Cypress semiconductor released a new version of its capacitive-sensing controller technology, intended to cut system-design time and expand the market for such applications.

TI offers world's lowest power capacitive touch for MSP430 MCUs

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) has launched the ultra-low-power MSP430 16-bit microcontroller capacitive touch portfolio. The company claims the MSP430 devices offered in this portfolio feature the world's lowest-power touch sense capabilities.

Touch controller now offers haptic feedback

Atmel has introduced capacitive touch application-specific microcontrollers for implementing touch button, slider and wheel functionality, that integrate Immersion's haptic intellectual property to create a more intuitive and powerful user experience.

Agilent Technologies

New Agilent Oscilloscopes with Breakthrough Technology Deliver More Scope for the Same Budget

InfiniiVision 2000 and 3000 X-Series scopes offer 26 models from 70 to 500 MHz starting at $1,230 USD. Entry models offer industry-exclusive options like 8-channel Mixed Signal Oscilloscope and integrated function generator. Advanced scopes change to 16-channel MSOs and add serial bus debug options.
Click here to learn more.


The first rule of UI design


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