editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Sensing the Squish

We’re used to touch being about locating one or more fingers or items on a surface. This is inherently a 2D process. Although much more richness is being explored for the long-term, one third dimension that seems closer in is pressure: how hard are we pushing down, and can we use that to, for instance, grab an object for dragging?

At the 2011 Touch Gesture Motion conference, one company that got a fair bit of attention was Flatfrog, who uses a light-based approach, with LEDs and sensors around the screen to triangulate positions. At the 2012 Touch Gesture Motion conference, when 2D seemed so 2011, pressure was a more frequent topic of conversation. But clearly a visual technology like Flatfrog’s wouldn’t be amenable to measuring pressure since there is nothing to sense the pressure.

Unless…

If you have a squishy object like a finger, then you can use what I’ll call the squish factor to infer pressure. This is what Flatfrog does: when a finger (for example) touches down, they normalize the width of the item, and then they track as that width widens due to the squishing of the finger (or whatever). Which means that this works with materials that squish. Metal? Not so much.

You might wonder how they can resolve such small movements using an array of LEDs that are millimeters apart. For a single LED and an array of sensors, for example, the resolution might indeed be insufficient. But because they have so many LEDs, the combined measurements from all of them allow them to resolve small micro-structures.

There is a cost to this, of course, in processing: it adds about 100 million instructions per second to the processing. “Ouch!” you say? Actually, it’s not that bad: their basic processing budget without pressure is about 2 billion instructions per second, so this is about a 5% adder.

More information at their website

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jan 22, 2021
Amidst an ongoing worldwide pandemic, Samtec continues to connect with our communities. As a digital technology company, we understand the challenges and how uncertain times have been for everyone. In early 2020, Samtec Cares suspended its normal grant cycle and concentrated ...
Jan 22, 2021
I was recently introduced to the concept of a tray that quickly and easily attaches to your car'€™s steering wheel (not while you are driving, of course). What a good idea!...
Jan 22, 2021
This is my second post about this year's CES. The first was Consumer Electronics Show 2021: GM, Intel . AMD The second day of CES opened with Lisa Su, AMD's CEO, presenting. AMD announced new... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community...
Jan 20, 2021
Explore how EDA tools & proven IP accelerate the automotive design process and ensure compliance with Automotive Safety Integrity Levels & ISO requirements. The post How EDA Tools and IP Support Automotive Functional Safety Compliance appeared first on From Silicon...

featured paper

Speeding Up Large-Scale EM Simulation of ICs Without Compromising Accuracy

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

With growing on-chip RF content, electromagnetic (EM) simulation of passives is critical — from selecting the right RF design candidates to detecting parasitic coupling. Being on-chip, accurate EM analysis requires a tie in to the process technology with process design kits (PDKs) and foundry-certified EM simulation technology. Anything short of that could compromise the RFIC’s functionality. Learn how to get the highest-in-class accuracy and 10X faster analysis.

Click here to download the whitepaper

featured chalk talk

Automotive Infotainment

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and KEMET

In today’s fast-moving automotive electronics design environment, passive components are often one of the last things engineers consider. But, choosing the right passives is now more important than ever, and there is an exciting and sometimes bewildering range of options to choose from. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Peter Blais from KEMET about choosing the right passives and the right power distribution for your next automotive design.

Click here for more information about KEMET Electronics Low Voltage DC Auto Infotainment Solutions