In-depth understanding of touch screen technology and touch design skills

In fact, if there is an LCD or keyboard on the product, the designer may need to consider how to design a product that uses touch technology. Unfortunately for designers, when designing touch screens, there are many different solutions with various performances, and of course various design considerations are also required. So now is the time to understand the technology in depth and evaluate your product line. Only in this way can we become the leader in the market, and good design is the starting point of the design.

From telephones, office equipment, speakers, digital photo frames, TV control keys, remote controls, GPS systems, car keyless control, to medical monitoring equipment, touch devices are everywhere! Every industry, every product type, every size, every application, even every price point, cannot do without touch technology. It can be said that touch technology is everywhere.

In-depth analysis of touch technology

Understanding the design needs is the most important first step in touch product design. Many providers in the touch screen supply chain usually provide many confusing different components, and more often, some providers join forces to provide a value chain for end customers. Figure 1 shows the composition of the touch screen ecosystem. Interestingly, the ecosystem is the same whether it is the latest laptop or the latest touch screen phone.

Figure 1: Analysis of the touch screen controller

1. Front panel or frame

The front panel or outer frame is the outermost layer of the end product. In some products, the outer frame encloses the transparent cover plate, so as not to be affected by the external bad weather or humidity, and to prevent the following sensing products from being scratched and damaged (see # 3). Sometimes, the outermost frame simply covers the top of the touch sensor, in this case it is just a decoration.

2. Touch controller

Usually, the touch controller is a small microcontroller chip, which is located between the touch sensor and the PC / or embedded system controller. The chip can be mounted on the controller board inside the system, or it can be placed on a flexible printed circuit (FPC) attached to the glass touch sensor. The touch controller will extract the information from the touch sensor and convert it into information that the PC or embedded system controller can understand.

3. Touch sensing

The touch screen "sensor" is a transparent glass plate with a touch-responsive surface. The sensor is placed on the LCD so that the touch area of ​​the panel can cover the visible area of ​​the display. There are many different touch sensing technologies on the market today, each of which uses different methods to detect touch input. Basically, these technologies all cause current to flow through the panel during touch, thereby producing a change in voltage or signal. This voltage change will be sensed by the touch controller to determine the touch position on the screen.

4. Liquid crystal display (LCD)

Most touch screen systems are used on traditional LCDs. The LCD selection method for touch products is basically the same as that in the traditional system, including resolution, sharpness, refresh speed, cost, etc. But another major consideration in touch screens is radiation level. Since the technology in the touch sensor is based on the tiny electrical changes generated by the panel being touched, an LCD that can radiate a lot of electrical noise is a design difficulty. Before selecting an LCD for use in a touch system, you should consult with a touch sensor provider.

5. System software

The touch screen driver software can come from the original manufacturer (such as the embedded OS in the mobile phone), or it can be a software that is added later (like adding a touch screen to a traditional PC). The software should enable the touch screen to work with the system controller. It will tell the product's operating system how to parse the touch event information from the touch controller. In PC-type applications, most touch screen drivers work like a mouse. This makes the touch screen very similar to continuously pressing the mouse at the same position on the screen. In an embedded system, the embedded control driver must compare the information that appears on the screen with the location where the touch was received.

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