SAN FRANCISCO—Cypress Semiconductor Corp. Monday (Feb. 27) unveiled what the company calls the first single-layer touchscreen sensor to support multi-touch capability, offering a dramatic reduction in cost that the company believes will enable many feature phones to incorporate touchscreens, thus significantly increasing the size of the potential market.
"We think we are going to see a massive migration of feature phones into touch," said John Carey, director of TrueTouch marketing at Cypress.
Touchscreens with multi-touch capability are basically standard equipment in current smartphones, but few feature phones have offered it. According to Carey, about two-thirds of the roughly 1.5 billion handsets shipping in 2011 were feature phones. "These guys really want to put touch in their phones, but they can't afford to do it," Carey said. "And the sensor is the biggest thing driving the cost."
Carey said Cypress's new sensor, SLIM (an acronym for single-layer independent multi-touch) is a single-substrate, single-layer single layer indium tin oxide (ITO) touchscreen, requiring no additional insulation layers or bridges. SLIM reduces cost versus other multi-touch sensors by roughly 40 percent and also enables thinner phones, he said. SLIM can be deposited directly on a handset's cover class, reducing thickness even further, he added.
"High-end phones can get thinner," Carey said. "Industrial designers can do really cool things with their phones."
SLIM can also eliminate the need for a side-bezel, normally about 2 millimeters on each side of the end product, enabling borderless display modules that allow OEMs to use larger displays without changing the form-factor of the phone, said Carey.
According to Carey, competing multi-touch sensors consist of two layers or what he called "1.5 layers," the ITO and an insulator. He said Cypress has developed proprietary algorithms that interface with a single-layer sensor with no bridges.
"SLIM kind of creates a new classs of product on the high end, it also unlocks an enormous [market opportunity] with the feature phones," Carey said. "It will play in both arenas."
Carey said Cypress is ready to begin working on designs with SLIM now, but that the sensor is expected to be in general availability in the second quarter.
Also Monday, Cypress rolled out its TMA140 TrueTouch controllers, offering multi-finger for screens of up to five inches. The new controllers, designed to work with SLIM sensors, support Cypress’s patent-pending Charger Armor feature, which uses adaptive frequency hopping and other techniques to prevent false touches due to excessive noise from a charger, the company said.
For designers looking for single-layer touchscreen solutions, Atmel announced the maXTouch™ mXT112E in June 2011 which is optimized for screens up to 3.5 inches including features phones, digital cameras and personal navigation devices. The advanced noise processing algorithms, which make it immune to LCD noise, enable a true single-layer sensor. The following EE Times story provides more detail: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-products/processors/4217365/Atmel-expands-maXTouch-E-Series-family-for-2-8-to-3-5-inch-touchscreens-
Cypress Semiconductors will be comming with many more shoking news due to its primary research are in PSOC with Mixed mode signal processing they have huge investment in development of touch screen and touch screen signal processing.
Many feature phones already have touchscreens, and the lines between feature phones and smartphones are already quite blurry.
This new controller may become popular for high end feature phones with modest size touchscreens (3 inches or more) or low end smartphones...if indeed those are actually two distinct product categories.
But many markets in the developing world still require a low cost feature phone, which for the near future, is not likely to have a touchscreen of any size.
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