Thursday, February 22, 2024

First Piezoelectric Sensor For Automotive Interfaces

By Nidhi Agarwal

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The sensor for automotive interfaces enhances touch interaction and offers force sensing, featuring a robust and scalable design.


UltraSense Systems has launched the UltraSense TouchPoint Q, the world’s inaugural piezoelectric strain sensor engineered to enhance touch interaction in automotive interfaces. The press release says that the piezoelectric strain sensor is designed to improve touch interaction in automotive interfaces. The device adds robustness to capacitive touch systems with calibratable force thresholds and is resistant to temperature sensitivity, mechanical stresses, ageing, and signal drift due to adhesive thermal expansion mismatch. It features a MEMS-based QuadForce architecture with four strain sensors in each component, enabling differential sensing and pattern recognition with machine learning. The sensor qualifies for AEC Q100 Grade 2 standards for temperature ranges from -40 to +105C.

The SoC controller, equipped with Piezoelectric Force sensing and an AFE, bolsters existing capacitive systems with force sensing. Based on the system’s mechanical design, it can control a single button or multiple buttons per controller. This versatile controller can be mounted on traditional PCBs or flexible printed films. It also features the QuadForce architecture, detecting surface deflections of 10 nanometers. The controller is available in two sizes: a 3 mm x 3 mm x 0.6 mm QFN package for In-Plane configurations and a 2.6 mm x 1.4 mm x 0.5 mm size for Z-Pillar configurations, also adhering to the AEC-Q100 Grade 2 standards.

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Conventional capacitive touch systems often need help with either oversensitivity, leading to annoying false activations, or insufficient sensitivity, resulting in a suboptimal user experience. Integrating previous force-sensing technologies, such as optical, parallel plate capacitance, or piezoresistive, into these systems could have yielded better outcomes. These additions often led to a less premium tactile feel, necessitated visible surface movement, and demanded costly calibration procedures during manufacturing. Consequently, the initial solid-surface capacitive touch systems launched by some automobile manufacturers received lukewarm responses.

“TouchPoint Q enables automotive tier-suppliers to deliver a new generation of more capable touch sensing functions,” said UltraSense Systems Chief Business Officer Daniel Goehl. “TouchPoint Q can easily and cost-effectively augment already designed capacitive systems with a better force-sensing solution to improve the user experience and manufacturing scalability.”

For more information, click here.


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