New touch controller family disrupts traditional touchscreen designs

07-07-2022 | Microchip Technology | Semiconductors

Microchip Technology Inc has launched the maXTouch Knob on Display (KoD) controller as the first automotive-grade touchscreen controller family to natively support the detection and reporting of capacitive rotary encoders and mechanical switches on top of a touch panel. Unlike conventional mechanical rotary encoders, this new technology allows mounting the knob directly onto the display with no opening in the panel or any customisation of the touch pattern, increasing design flexibility and cost savings.

The KoD technology eradicates the necessity for custom touch sensor patterns, allowing designers to effortlessly implement a different knob count, shape and position to satisfy a variety of end-user products. The customised configurations are adjustable without changing the embedded firmware of the controller, leading to a faster and more flexible development cycle. The controller enables designers to keep the comfort of a rotary encoder input device but integrate it with a modern and innovative interior design utilising smart surfaces and multi-touch displays.

A further benefit designers can expect to experience is the simplicity of building a sealed HMI module, which is popular for in-home appliances and industrial applications. Employing a knob on a display will also enhance safety for the end-user, for example, they will not need to look at the display while driving to adjust their sound or air conditioning.

“Modern user interfaces commonly use multi-touch displays, removing mechanical keys for cutting-edge designs. Yet, functions like temperature or audio volume remain best controlled through a rotary encoder,” said Clayton Pillion, vice president of the Human Machine Interface business unit at Microchip Technology.

“The new maXTouch KoD technology offers the benefits of both worlds by providing the support of a capacitive rotary encoder with a turn-key touch controller family and a comprehensive suite of dedicated tools for a fast implementation.”

With the release of the family, it offers two variants to enable customers the design freedom and flexibility to decide how they will implement the capacitive rotary encoder. The KD variant permits customers to select their knob design partner and construct their own solution utilising a reference design developed with BNL Bearings. It offers the option to fully customise the design for specific applications.

The additional MK variant supports the Magic Knob developed by Panasonic Industry Co., Ltd. While keeping the flexibility to be mounted on standard touch sensor patterns, the solution delivers a high level of customisation for rotation and push haptic feedback, and for the top cover material selection.