OMRON Corporation and Renesas Technology Corp. have reached an agreement to jointly develop capacitive touch sensor¹ solutions, a field that is attracting a great deal of interest as a next-generation man-machine interface². Based on this agreement, Renesas will integrate OMRON’s touch sensor technology into its R8C Family 16-bit microcontroller (MCU) products and supply touch sensor solutions for a wide range of fields, including household appliances and mobile devices.
Touch panels are increasingly being used in a wide variety of products, including household appliances, AV equipment, office equipment, game machines, mobile phones, and portable music players. OMRON is a world leader in touch sensor technology with its proprietary series capacitive division comparison system³, which has an established track record in a broad range of markets. Renesas, for its part, has the world’s top market share in the MCU field. In particular, the R8C Family, to which OMRON’s touch sensor technology will be added, has a large share of the market for 16-bit MCUs in the consumer field due to the wide selection of packages and memory configurations available.
By creating a hardware version of OMRON’s proven touch sensor technology in the form of a touch detection circuit device and integrating it into Renesas’ R8C Family of MCU products as a single chip solution, customers will enjoy the following benefits:
- Enhanced system performance
Integrating the MCU, which performs system control, and the touch detection circuit device in a single chip eliminates the current need for a separate external chip to enable this functionality and increases noise tolerance. This results in improved touch sensor sensitivity and more accurate touch detection.
- Reduced system power consumption
Integration on a single chip helps reduce power consumption. Even in low-power mode, touch detection during low-frequency (4 MHz/5 MHz) operation is supported. This contributes significantly to extended battery life in battery-powered products such as game machines, PCs, and mobile phones.
- Compact size and reduced overall cost
Integration on a single chip eliminates the current need for a large number of external peripheral devices such as capacitors and resistors, enabling the use of a more compact printed wiring board. An entire system can be built from the MCU and some capacitors and resistors, reducing the total number of devices for lower overall cost and increased reliability.
The objectives of this joint development project are to achieve adoption of OMRON’s world-class touch sensor solutions throughout the world market and to establish Renesas’ MCU products in a dominant position in the touch sensor market.
Yasushi Akao, Renesas Technology board director and executive general manager of the MCU business group, said, “I think that by fusing our MCU and analog peripheral circuit technology, two of Renesas’ strengths, with capacitive touch sensor technology from OMRON, we will be able to offer our customers MCUs with highly reliable and cost-effective touch sensor functionality. I am confident that our low-power solutions will increase adoption of our products in a wide range of new applications and help revitalize the market by enabling the creation of new products with distinctive designs.”
Soichi Yukawa, OMRON senior managing officer and electronic components company president, remarked, “In recent years, touch sensors have come to be used as the input method for many electronic products, but there have been problems regarding design flexibility and convenience. I am confident that the products that will result from this joint development project will combine sensor technology and MCU technology—the core competences of the two partners—to realize systems with a new level of ‘user friendliness’ and lead to wider adoption of touch interfaces.”
- Capacitive touch sensor: A type of sensor in which the on or off state is detected based on the stored electric charge. (The capacitive value expresses the amount of electric charge stored.)
- Man-machine interface: A system for conveying information between a person and a machine, enabling the user to utilize a computer interactively to perform tasks or do work.
- Series capacitive division comparison system: The amount of change in the capacitance of a capacitor connected in series to the sensor electrodes is converted into a voltage, and the touch/non-touch state of the panel is determined by measuring the discharge duration. Touch sensors employing this system provide rapid response and a high level of noise tolerance.