New Automotive Touch Controllers For Multi-Function Displays

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  • Microchip Technology’s latest rugged offering enables implementation of touch surfaces on both interior and exterior vehicle surfaces
  • The devices allow detection and tracking of multi-finger thick glove and in rough weather 

To help enhance and ease modern driving experience, touch displays play a major role beyond the centre infotainment display (CID). Supporting the application of these secondary displays with advanced features, Microchip Technology has now extended its maXTouch portfolio with the inclusion of the new MXT288UD touch controller family.

The MXT288UD-AM and the MXT144UD-AM automotive-grade packaged touch screen controllers offer low power mode, weatherproof operation and glove touch detection in multi-function displays, touchpad and smart surfaces for vehicles, motorcycles, e-bikes and car-sharing services. The devices enable secondary touch surfaces to be placed in both the interior of cars and exterior of a motor vehicle, such as handlebars, doors, electronic mirrors, control knobs, the steering wheel, between seats or in an armrest.

Compact and reliable

With the MXT288UD family’s small 7×7 mm automotive-grade VQFN56 package, tier-one suppliers can now reduce board space by 75 per cent and greatly minimise the overall Bill of Materials (BoM) for these compact applications — all while exceeding the requirements for excellent and reliable touch performance. The family’s low power wait-for-touch mode consumes less than 50 µA while remaining responsive for the user, even if the display switches off to save power or to avoid disturbance. The system can be woken by touch anywhere on the touch surface.

Robust touch tracking

Additionally, the MXT288UD-AM and the MXT144UD-AM devices enable detection and tracking of multi-finger thick gloves through a wide variety of overlay materials and thicknesses, like leather, wood or across uneven surfaces — even in the presence of moisture. Normally the dielectric constant of such materials would limit the detection of the touch, however, these devices provide a unique solution to reliably detect and track multi fingers with a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and through a proprietary differential mutual acquisition scheme.

For example, in car-sharing applications, this reliable touch functionality helps users access a car from the outside by tracking touch coordinates on an exterior display in any environment, like rain, snow or extreme heat. Motorcycles and other motorbike vehicles also benefit from such weatherproof designs. The MXT288UD family provides proven firmware, developed according to Automotive SPICE processes and is AEC-Q100 qualified, thus assisting automotive manufacturers for easy and fast integration into existing systems at a lower risk with faster time to market.

“Automotive OEMs are looking to enhance the user experience through smart surfaces and multi-function displays, while still providing a convenient and distraction-free environment,” said Fanie Duvenhage, vice president of Microchip’s human-machine interface and touch function group. “Addressing these needs in the market, Microchip is building on its already leading portfolio of automotive touchscreen solutions with the new MXT288UD touch controller family — bringing increased performance and cost savings to the industry’s smallest package of automotive-grade touch controllers.”

Development Tools

Both software and hardware support are available. Software tools include maXTouch Studio and a maXTouch analyser. For the MXT288UD, the hardware offered includes an evaluation kit with a printed circuit board (PCB) and a 12.7 cm (5 inches) capacitive touch panel, while the MXT144UD’s evaluation kit includes a PCB and a 7.3 cm (2.9 inches) capacitive touchpad. For both devices, a bridge PCB is included with a USB connection for interfacing to a computer when running maXTouch Studio.

The MXT288UD touch controller family is available now in mass production.


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