Touch technology specialist Zytronic has extended its capability and can now work closely with customers to design and manufacture projected capacitive user interfaces that combine a “traditional” dynamic touch area with surrounding capacitive keys.
Named ZyBrid and based upon Zytronic’s multi-touch capable, projected capacitive technology (MPCT), this latest development opens up new opportunities to improve and enhance the design of human interface devices (HID) for a wide range of applications that prove challenging to conventional approaches.
While touchscreens provide an intuitive and flexible interface, incorporating a large display into a control panel can add significant cost and weight compared to conventional mechanical controls, whilst also increasing the unit’s power consumption, none of which is desirable. Zytronic’s ZyBrid solution allows a touch display of an appropriately small size to be paired with non-mechanical printed and fixed keys in the same glass surface. This approach has the added benefit of creating a seamless, completely sealable user interface, with no holes or gaps to trap dirt or allow liquid ingress.
Zytronic’s patented projected capacitive touch technology will detect multiple simultaneous fingers, conductive styli and even gloved or dirty hands, through glass thicknesses of 10mm or more. In doing so, it ignores raindrops, leaves, dirt, ice and other debris that can ‘fool’ other touch solutions. As a result, ZyBrid is suited to both indoor and outdoor use.
The ZyBrid solution consists of a customised glass ZyBrid touch sensor combined with a Zytronic ZXY500 multi-touch controller that supports up to 100 independent touch points and rapid touch detection. With its ownership of both the touchscreen manufacture and touch controller design and algorithm development, Zytronic has developed special firmware for the controller so that a dynamic touch sensing area can be defined alongside fixed key positions and even a “touch-pad”.
Working closely with customers, the touch interface is designed, glass is cut, printed and thermally toughened in-house, and then Zytronic’s electronics engineers customise the firmware per the client request, defining the key function and output protocol. The ZyBrid user interface design possibilities are literally limitless, with the technology being able to combine touchscreens of any aspect ratio, together with full keyboards, keypads, and other frequently used buttons, such as shortcuts to calculators, internet browsers, maps or anything else that is needed.
“Operation of the ZyBrid keyboard function is achieved before loading of the native Windows desktop,” explains Dr. Andrew Morrison, Technical Director at Zytronic. “The ZyBrid boots as a native HID keyboard, HID touchpad and HID touchscreen. This allows keyboard functionality via the sensor at the boot level and once the Operating System desktop has fully loaded, functionality of the three functional areas is available. A significant benefit for integrators is that no drivers are required since it enumerates within multi-touch capable versions of Windows or Linux as native HID devices, and therefore operation is available straight away.”
The Zytronic ZyBrid solution is ideally suited to a wide range of applications, even ones that may be subjected to vibration, shock and dirt from the operator’s hands. Other areas that benefit from the sealed nature of the seamless, glass-to-glass edged design is food processing and medical industries where hygienic design is of primary importance. The flat surface with no embedded mechanical switches or crevices can be quickly and effectively cleaned, and the inert glass surface is relatively immune to harsh chemicals.
With extensive experience in glass-based design, Zytronic can manufacture ZyBrid touch sensors in almost any size and specification at its comprehensive facility. Depending upon the application, glass enhancements such as anti-reflective, anti-glare and privacy filters can be added to the touchscreen. Customers are also able to specify a flat or curved touchscreen design and other customisations such as special edge profiling, cut outs and holes, can be added. To help guide user’s fingertips around the sensor when their eyes are diverted from the screen, surface features, such as dimples, grooves and raised markings, can be added. Furthermore, customer branding can be reinforced through the addition of screen-printed logos and borders that can be produced in almost any colour.