Freescale's Xtrinsic 3.0 Software Lets Touchscreens Overcome Water
The TWRPI Plug-In Starter Kit comes with two touch panels for testing of the Xtrinsic 3.0 software algorithms for touch interfaces. Configurable rotary, slider, and keypad decoders, and pre-exiiting application code and HMI functionality, comes free.
Everything is touch screen these days. If the touch applications look toy like, that is because touch interfaces are still an immature area. Although Apple has kept its same look, the way it operates has changed. Android continuously adds features and navigation options. Now, most prior non-desktop navigations buttons are now on screen. Windows Phone 8 brought a radical departure from the icon based HMI. Even more players will come and add new gestures and HMIs, Blackberry and Ubuntu come to mind first.
I remember a story I heard about an engineer commenting on expanded ram. He said, "why would you need more than 640k?" Evolve, embrace, or fall to the wayside.
I once had to replace the keyboard, trackpad and logic board of my Mac just because of a minor water spill! So I speak from experience about this. Obviously, this wasn't a touchscreen issue, but still, perhaps this could help make other types of computer interfaces more waterproof as well. It mystified me at the time that a bit of water could kill a computer so thoroughly! I thought they were sturdier than that. Then again, I had this happen a second time (duh!) and after letting my Mac dry out, it started working OK again (except the trackpad...that is toast).
Good point, Elizabeth. Virtually every computer user has spilled something on a keyboard. Until recently, I always kept a small netbook computer in the kitchen to check morning news stories, but the motherboard is now dead, thanks to an unknown source of moisture.
The moisture problem is one more reason to avoid using a touch screen in missionn critical systems. Of course, that only applies to systems where reliability and availability are far more important than low cost. Of course good pushbuttons cost a bit more, and they are not nearly so flexible, but it is often the case that there is only one chance to get the input command right, and getting the command right is way more critical than saving three cents on a button, or having some "neat" feature that does not add any benefit except for being "cool". Possibly I am being way too serious, but from where I stand most of the touch screen applications look a whole lot like toys. Not childrens toys, for sure, but they look like toys all the same. That is why none of the machine control systems that I have created use touch screens. None of those machines were toys.
I did see an invisible automotive keyless entry touch screen that worked very well even in a simulated heavy rainstorm. It may be that there was some heavy software applied, but I did not think so, and nobody claimed that there was software involved. I think it was in early or mid 2008.
Sounds like a different way to achieve one measure of ruggedization in systems traditionally built with various methods for ruggedizing, i.e., medical and industrial ones. I agree with Cabe, that consumer systems could also benefit from this. In fact, I keep wondering why consumer systems don't take advantage of more ruggedization strategies that already exist for industrial electronics. I know it costs more--but I also know my older computers were a lot hardier and expected to last longer.
Cabe, this is an interesting update. I have used the previous versions of Xtrinsic sensors. This seems to be a very important upgrade. Freescale, and many other companies, have been building more intelligence into their sensors, thus making it easier to bring rich functionality to many types of products more quickly.
If this technology were to become more widespread, this would be a super-helpful breakthrough to the use of touchscreens. Who hasn't spilled a bit of beverage on their device and experienced the pain of trying to use it afterwards? Interesting development to keep an eye on.
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