editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Not-So-New Touch

These days we talk about touch technology as if it’s a new thing. Actually, we’ve been using touch for years (since 1994, to be specific) – on our laptops. (OK, I know, a lot of you/us don’t like the touchpad, but it certainly does predate the touchscreen.)

I talked with Fred Caldwell from one of the oldest names in that field, Synaptics, at the Touch Gesture Motion conference last month. They used to make the touchpads; you may remember their name on a laptop you might have had long ago. They actually stopped making touchpads when they realized that their FAEs were spending too much time trying to solve manufacturing yield problems for their customers.

So they got out of the hardware business and focused on the software business. They can now work with any touch sensor – clear or opaque.

It’s actually a bit misleading to say they only do software. It’s probably more accurate to say that they do the calibration and signal conditioning, and they have their own ASIC for that purpose. It’s a custom architecture with a dedicated instruction set. They need this because there’s simply far too much data to send to a host if the host were to do the work. The incremental hardware cost is minimal, and it’s also far more power-efficient.

When dealing with a new display, they have a calibration wizard that maps out the sensor and establishes a rough baseline. Beyond that, their system auto-calibrates in real time – once per frame – to account for changing conditions (location, grounding, etc.)

“How do they do that,” you wonder? Ah… that would be a secret. They’re keeping mum about that.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
May 19, 2019
https://youtu.be/cTEPUNpqcRg Made at Samsung HQ (camera Sean) Monday: Bob Smith on ESD Alliance, ES Design West...with Wine Tuesday: After Meltdown and Spectre Wednesday: Vision Q7 DSP: Real-Time... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site....
May 17, 2019
The Design Automation Conference (DAC) is the premier conference for automated electronics design and verification technology. For 2019, DAC returns to sunny Las Vegas, Nevada at the Las Vegas Convention Center from June 2-5, 2019. We'€™ve packed each day full of exciting ...
May 17, 2019
In the days of old we looked into the “green” for guidance on how much further down into the world of miniaturization we could go. What is the green you ask? I am talking about the substrate that has served us all well for many years; the PCB. We are at a crossroa...
Jan 25, 2019
Let'€™s face it: We'€™re addicted to SRAM. It'€™s big, it'€™s power-hungry, but it'€™s fast. And no matter how much we complain about it, we still use it. Because we don'€™t have anything better in the mainstream yet. We'€™ve looked at attempts to improve conven...