Adding touch interaction to any object, surface or space

STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

Monday, 05 February, 2018

Adding touch interaction to any object, surface or space

Silicon chips from semiconductor company STMicroelectronics have enabled the creation of zForce AIR touch-sensing modules from Neonode, an optical sensor technology company.

Neonode’s compact, low-power and easy-to-use modules add touch interaction to any USB- or I²C-connected object and work with any type of display or surface, including steel, wood, plastic, glass, skin or even nothing, as they are able to detect touch interactions in mid-air. The approach uses laser-generated infrared light to track touch or gesture control, combining millimetre precision with ultrafast response. The non-visible-spectrum light doesn’t impact display quality, add glare or shift colours.

Neonode’s touch sensors uses a programmable mixed-signal custom system-on-chip (SoC) and an STM32 Arm Cortex microcontroller from ST for scanning laser diodes and IR beams to determine the exact position and movements of fingers, hands or other reflective objects in the light path. Multiple objects can be tracked simultaneously and interpreted as touches or gestures with extreme accuracy: the coordinates are relayed up to 500 times per second with virtually no delay.

“ST’s leading-edge chip-design capabilities and manufacturing processes have enabled us to build an innovative, high-performance optical-sensor system that is highly complex yet cost-competitive,” said Neonode CEO Andreas Bunge. “The advanced mixed-signal SoC and STM32 microcontroller at the heart of our new zForce AIR modules deliver the right combination of touch-control precision in real time, low power consumption and configurability.”

“This innovative sensing technology can make any object, surface or space touch-interactive, bringing complete freedom of design,” said Iain Currie, vice president North Europe Sales, STMicroelectronics. “Neonode’s decision to use ST technologies confirms our enabling role in the development of advanced applications that break new ground in man-machine interaction.”

Image caption: ST chips in Neonode touch-sensing modules.

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