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Thursday, April 04, 2019

Touch-Free capacitive touch-key microcontrollers for 3D gesture control

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Renesas Electronics has launched two touch-free user interface (UI) microcontrollers and reference designs  to simplify the design of 2D and 3D control-based applications. 

Based on Renesas’ capacitive sensor microcontrollers (MCUs), the microcontrollers support the development of UI that allows users to operate home appliances, as well as industrial and OA equipment without touching the devices. The UI solutions make it possible for appliance and equipment manufacturers to quickly develop touch-free interfaces that increase the added-value of their products in terms of both equipment convenience and design.

There are a variety of situations where touch-free operation is advantageous, such as when the users’ hands are wet, when the controls are out of reach, or when it is not safe for the user to touch the controls. With the touch-free UI, for example in the kitchen, users could adjust water temperature and flow rate through hand gestures near the faucets or adjust stove fan operation by holding a hand over the hood. This allows designers to easily implement these interfaces in their embedded equipment. The reference designs are available for download effective immediately.

“We are pleased with the strong response to our MCU-based touch-key solutions, which are currently deployed by more than 200 Renesas customers, and we are excited to continue enabling customers with solutions that bring new capabilities and experiences to the market,” said Toru Moriya, Vice President, Home Business Division, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “The new touch-free solutions represent another step in the evolution of capacitive touch sensor systems with high sensitivity and excellent resistance to noise for operation in multiple conditions and will lead to new UIs that are more user-friendly and convenient to use both in the home and in the workplace.”

The gesture controllers detect motion in a 2D coordinate system and in 3D space, respectively. With both solutions, Renesas provides design materials (circuit diagrams, board design data files, and parts lists) that form the reference hardware for the capacitive touch-key MCU, as well as coordinate calculation middleware, sample programs, application notes, and an evaluation tool for monitoring the detected coordinates.

The touch-free UI solutions have passed class B (note 3) testing for the IEC 61000 4-3 level 3 and 4-6 level 3 noise immunity standards, and can achieve stable operation.

The 3D gesture solution is available in three different sizes and can be selected based on the application:
  • Standard version (160 × 160 × 100 mm) with RX231 MCU
  • Miniature version (80 × 80 × 80 mm) with RX130 MCU
  • Slim version (100 × 100 × 20 mm) with RX130 MCU for additional space saving

In addition to the touch-free UI solutions, Renesas offers touch-key solutions for devices designed to operate with challenging or non-traditional touch materials such as woods, or required to operate in wet or dirty environments such as a kitchen or a factory floor. Renesas provides a development environment with QE for Capacitive Touch, Workbench6, solution kits and evaluation systems specialized for capacitive touch key development in addition to Renesas’ capacitive touch key MCUs starting with the RX130 Group, which are ideal for use in HMI for industrial equipment and home appliances.

The 2D and 3D touch-free UI solutions are available now for download at https://www.renesas.com/products/software-tools/boards-and-kits/eval-kits/3d-gesture-reference-design.html.

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