Atmel Targets Portable Devices with Low-power, Flexible Single-Key Capacitive Touch Controllers

DN Staff

February 22, 2010

2 Min Read
Atmel Targets Portable Devices with Low-power, Flexible Single-Key Capacitive Touch Controllers

ELECTRONICS: Atmel© Corp., a leader in microcontroller and touch solutions, announced a new family of single-key touch controllers for the portable device market. This new family offers designers power consumption below 17 µA for next-generation portable touch devices, including power buttons, hearing devices, consumer toys and proximity sensors. The embedded low-power features in Atmel’s new family of single-key touch controllers also enable longer battery life for these portable devices.

Based on Atmel’s patented QTouch® capacitive touch technology for buttons, wheels and sliders, the new family of single-key capacitive touch controllers offers a better response time. This feature allows mobile touch devices to wake-up faster than products currently on the market. When a key touch is detected, these devices will temporarily switch to a 12.6 ms fast response mode, allowing additional touches to be detected quickly.

Similar to all Atmel touch technology devices, the AT42QT101X family uses spread spectrum modulation to ensure excellent electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). The integrated circuits (ICs) automatically calibrate when powered up. The device will also stay calibrated, even with moisture build-up or other contaminants on the touch surface. With Atmel’s touch controllers, the touch surface remains reliable throughout its lifetime.

Atmel’s AT42QT101X family of flexible single-channel capacitive touch key ICs include the AT42QT1010, AT42QT1011 and AT42QT1012. Atmel’s AT42QT1010 includes a timer to reset a “stuck key” condition after 60 sec, while the AT42QT1011 indicates a touch condition while the sensor is “in detect” mode but does not have a timeout. Atmel’s AT42QT1012 includes a touch-on/touch-off or toggle key and also includes a configurable power down timer, preventing devices from inadvertently being left on.

The key sensitivity on all devices can be configured for different panel thickness and materials. Electrodes can be made from any conductive material including transparent ITO (Indium Tin Oxide). There are few constraints on the key shape or size, allowing the user a great level of flexibility in the industrial design. The IC can also be configured for use as a proximity sensor, allowing a nearby hand or object to be detected. This functionality is typically used in toys to illuminate “hidden-until-lit” keys when a hand or a finger approaches a consumer appliance.

Atmel’s AT42QT101X devices are available now. Prices start at $0.20 for high-volume pricing. Evaluation kits are also available now.


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