PORTLAND, Ore. Silicon Laboratories Inc. has launched a mixed-signal silicon and software initiative for developing human interfaces for touch-, proximity- and ambient light-sensitive devices.
Called QuickSense, the portfolio includes specialized microcontrollers along with necessary sensors, and will be supported by a common software development environment. Among the applications are personal electronics, small appliances, light and thermostat controls, home security panels, set-top boxes and displays.
"Next year, there are going to be over a billion products shipped with advanced human interface technologies, including touch-sensitive screens and other haptic, gesture and infrared-based controls," predicted Mark Thompson, vice president and general manager of Silicon Labs' MCU Division. "As these products become increasingly complex, there are more and more functions that need to be made more easily usable by the average consumer.
"Instead of adding a thousand buttons, new touch and gesture interfaces are becoming context-aware so they only offer the options and features that are available at any given moment, simplifying the user experience," Thompson added.
Silicon Labs (Austin, Texas) claims the 40-microsecond data acquisition time of its microcontrollers makes them one of the fastest available, while its patented single-pulse proximity measurement technique saves as much as 4,000 times the power consumed by conventional infrared sensors. Together with power management savings, Silicon Labs claims that consumer devices based on QuickSense will extend battery life beyond today's devices.
The QuickSense portfolio includes the F800 family of capacitive touch-sensitive microcontrollers using what the company calls capacitance-to-digital converters. The converters eliminate the need for mechanical buttons and sliders.
Silicon Labs also announced on Wednesday (Oct. 28) its Si11xx family of proximity and ambient light sensors. Built-in capabilities includes single-pulse per measurement operation as well as a "touchless" proximity sensing technique that allows users to activate sensors with the wave of a hand.
Silicon Labs also said it plans to extend QuickSense with new touch-screen microcontrollers that support multi-touch interfaces, such as pinching to zoom.