Becoming more popular over the last several years, capacitive touch switches offer a number of benefits when compared to other user-interface (UI) technologies.
In today's touch-centric era, consumers have not only adapted to non-tactile technologies, but also expect a broader range of devices to offer this functionality and user experience. Capacitive switches do not have any moving parts or mechanical components, resulting in superior durability and prolonged life. Since these devices do not have crevices, they reduce tooling costs and don't allow moisture, dirt, or dust ingress. Cleaning a touchscreen's flat surface is easier than other mechanical switch user interfaces. While mechanical buttons can attract dust and tend to wear after repeated use over the years, capacitive technology can replace buttons with a clean and crisp user interface.
Compared to other mature user-interface (UI) technologies, capacitive switches have a thinner stack-up, resulting in sleek, elegant, and compact designs. These switches eliminate multiple layers and components from the circuitry, reducing the overall cost of the device. The images below provide a comparison between the stack-up layers of the most common UI technologies available in the market today.
The early stages of capacitive switches only utilized printed circuit boards (PCBs), but now the design possibilities have expanded by employing flexible printed circuits. By detecting and utilizing changes in the projected capacitive field, capacitive sensing technology allows you detect touch, enabling a broad range of contemporary touch interfaces and design layouts. Capacitive sensor technologies also give you the additional freedom of enhancing the user experience by integrating feedback mechanism like backlighting or haptics.
The key advantages of capacitive touch technology are:
- No moving mechanics
- Thinner stack-up
- Sleek and modern aesthetics
- Easy cleanability
- Higher durability and improved reliability
- Design flexibility
- Backlighting and haptics capability
With the shift towards touch technology, an increasing number of companies are flocking towards integrating capacitive touch in their products. Common applications of capacitive touch technology include smartphones and tablets, home appliances and electronics, medical devices, car consoles, ATM machines, gaming consoles, vending machines, security and communication systems, hand-held devices, electronic sensors, fluid-level sensing machines, proximity sensors, and even airplane cabins.
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