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Renesas Electronics Enables Flexible Design for Capacitive Touch-Based Human-Machine Interface Applications

April 2015 by Emmanuelle Lamandé

Renesas Electronics announced its new touch sensing starter kit (part# Y-RX113CAPT01) for the RX113 Group of 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs), which incorporate capacitive touch sensor intellectual property (IP). The new kit offers systems designers greater flexibility in developing human-machine interface (HMI) applications for home appliances, industrial machinery, and others that require touch capability in rugged environments.

The capacitive touch sensor IP built into RX113 Group of MCUs delivers both high sensitivity and high noise tolerance, allowing touch recognition even when the operator is wearing gloves, for instance with industrial applications such as numerical control (NC) machine tool control panels. It also provides water resistance, making it suitable for use in a wide variety of product categories, including electric kitchen appliances that may be exposed to water spills, such as induction heating (IH) cooking devices or dishwashers, or products designed for wet environments, such as remote controls for bath water heaters or water-resistant TV sets.

The new touch sensing development kit enables system designers to take advantage of the full performance benefits offered by Renesas’ capacitive touch sensor IP. In addition, the kit provides automatic tuning functionality that solves a key problem for capacitive touch interface development: the tradeoff between touch sensitivity and noise tolerance. The starter kit is bundled with four touch sensing evaluation boards, making it simple to create suitable environments for testing panel materials, proximity or position sensing, and more.

The new touch sensing development kit includes:
- Four touch sensing evaluation boards and sample software for each
- Workbench6 automatic tuning tool [1], that allows designers to start development immediately, with features including:
o All-in-one package that accelerates the start of development
o Evaluation boards and automatic tuning tool that make it easy to set up a touch sensing development environment
o Ability to output tuning data as source files

Key features of the evaluation boards and automatic tuning tool included in the starter kit:

1) Touch sensing evaluation boards
- Evaluation board for basic touch sensing operations: keys, key matrix, sliders, and touch wheels
Suitable for sensing applications employing materials such as acrylic, glass, wood, or plastic, covered with fabric, etc.
- Evaluation board for proximity sensing (non-contact sensing applications): Applications where hygiene is an issue, or where the operator wears thick latex gloves or mittens (Note 2).
- Evaluation board for trackpads: Applications using position and direction sensing to mimic the functionality of a PC mouse [2]

2) Workbench6 automatic tuning tool
- Touch sensor tuning data is output as project source files that are compatible with Renesas’ CS+ and e2 studio [3] integrated development environments.
- Supports the self-capacitance method, which is particularly well suited to applications requiring high sensitivity or proximity detection; the mutual-capacitance method, which provides excellent water resistance and matrix key support using multiple keys; and patterns that mix self-capacitance and mutual-capacitance – an industry first. This makes it possible to build systems that are like conventional touch key panels with proximity sensors added [4].


The new touch sensing starter kit will be available at the end of May 2015.

[1] Renesas released the Workbench development tool in 2009, timed to coincide with the start of mass production of the R8C/3xT Group of touch sensing MCUs. A variety of functions have been added since then in response to customer requirements. The current version of the software is Workbench6.

[2] Only the board is included. Compatible software will be distributed via the website at a later date.

[3] An integrated development environment tool for Renesas RX Family (RX600, RX200, and RX100) MCUs that is based on the internationally popular Eclipse open source integrated development environment and the CDT plugin, which enables development using C/C++.

[4] Workbench6, which supports mixing self-capacitance and mutual-capacitance, will be distributed via the website at a later date.

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