Controller chips enable 20” automotive touchscreens

December 05, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Even in cars, touchscreens are growing bigger and bigger. Microchip now has introduced a family of touchscreen controllers designed to address challenges in the design of modern automotive capacitive touch systems with screens up to 20 inches in size.

Increasingly, car drivers and passengers expect their cockpit touchscreens to operate with the same touch experience as mobile phones. However, screens in automobiles need to meet stringent head impact and vibration tests, and consequently have thicker cover lenses that potentially impact the touch interface performance. As screens get larger, they are also more likely to interfere with other frequencies such as AM radio and car access systems.

Micochip’s new MXT2912TD-A, with nearly 3,000 touch-sensing nodes, and MXT2113TD-A, supporting more than 2,000 nodes, bring consumers the touchscreen user experience they expect in vehicles. These devices build upon Microchip’s maXTouch touchscreen technology that is widely adopted by manufacturers worldwide. Now the company’s new solutions offer superior signal-to-noise capability to address the requirements of thick lenses, even supporting multiple finger touches through thick gloves and in the presence of moisture.

As automakers use screens to replace mechanical switches on the dashboard for sleeker interior designs, safe and reliable operation becomes even more critical. The MXT2912TD-A and MXT2113TD-A devices incorporate self- and sensor-diagnostic functions, which constantly monitor the integrity of the touch system. These smart diagnostic features support the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) classification index as defined by the ISO 26262 Functional Safety Specification for Passenger Vehicles.

The new devices feature technology that enables adaptive touch utilizing self-capacitance and mutual-capacitance measurements, so all touches are recognised and false-touch detections are avoided.

They also feature Microchip’s proprietary new signal-shaping technology that is said to lower emissions to help large touchscreens using maXTouch controllers meet CISPR-25 Level 5 requirements for electromagnetic interference in automobiles. The new touch controllers also meet automotive temperature grade 3 (-40 to +85°C) and grade 2 (-40 to +105°C) operating ranges and are AEC-Q100 qualified.

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