Microchip Technology controller combines touchscreen and rotary knob benefits

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Many automotive and industrial touch HMI designers are looking to merge the benefits of a mechanical rotary encoder input with the flexibility of modern multi-touch displays. Arizona-based Microchip Technology thinks it has the solution with the maXTouch Knob on Display (KoD) family of touchscreen controllers, which it states are the first automotive-grade touchscreen controllers to natively support the detection and reporting of capacitive rotary encoders as well as mechanical switches on top of a touch panel.

Unlike traditional mechanical rotary encoders, the technology enables the mounting of a knob directly onto a display without an opening in the panel, or any customization of the touch pattern, increasing design flexibility and system cost savings.

The company states that KoD technology eliminates the need for custom touch sensor patterns, providing designers the ability to implement a different knob count, shape and position to accommodate a variety of end-user products. The customized configurations are adjustable without changing the embedded firmware of the maXTouch KoD touch controller. The controller allows designers to keep the comfort of a rotary encoder input device but combine it with a modern and innovative interior design using smart surfaces and multi-touch displays.

“Modern user interfaces commonly use multi-touch displays, removing mechanical keys for cutting-edge designs. Yet, functions like temperature or audio volume remain best controlled though a rotary encoder,” said Clayton Pillion, vice president of the human-machine interface business unit at Microchip Technology. “The new maXTouch KoD technology offers the benefits of both worlds by providing the support of a capacitive rotary encoder with a turnkey touch controller family and a comprehensive suite of dedicated tools for a fast implementation.”

With the release of the maXTouch KoD family, Microchip offers two variants to allow customers the design freedom and flexibility to choose how they will implement the capacitive rotary encoder. The KD variant enables customers to choose their knob design partner and create their own solution using a reference design jointly developed with BNL Bearings—offering the option to fully customize the design for specific applications.

The additional MK variant supports the Magic Knob developed by Panasonic.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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