Drives and Controls Magazine
Touch controls can be created on any surface
Published:  16 June, 2014

A Dutch company called Aito is offering a touch control technology that can be used to create a configurable user interface of up to 11 touch buttons that can replace conventional mechanical switches. It claims that the technology overcomes problems with other touch technologies that need a significant button travel or will not operate with gloved hands or through metal panel overlays.

Aito’s software-enhanced piezo (SEP) touch control technology can be used to create touch keys on any surface. Each key's parameters can be configured individually for sensitivity, detection area and to cope with different overlay stiffness or mechanical integration conditions.

The new ATB250 controller provides a combination of input and output channels that support up to 11 piezo touch-buttons, each with drivers for LED indicators to provide visual feedback, along with a buzzer output for audible feedback. The LED and buzzer feedback patterns can be customised for each key.

“Our SEP technology offers the design freedom to use any material, even wood, to create extremely robust switch assemblies on flat or curved surfaces of varying thicknesses,” says Aito’s founder and CEO, Rene de Vries. “The choice of overlay material can enhance the visual appeal of the end-product, while the use of a seamless surface also provides protection from moisture, chemicals and other contaminants.”

An exploded view of Aito's touch control technology

Aito’s 11-channel AitoTouch chip costs $0.99 in quantities of 100,000. Compared to capacitive sensing touch controls, it is said to achieve savings in most applications by reducing costs such as the additional glass panels typically needed for stainless-steel products. It also allows standardised touch-control modules to be used for many different products, saving on inventory and maintenance costs.

Aito has recently raised €2m of new funding to help accelerate the global rollout of its technology.