In today’s touch-centric era, consumers have not only adapted to non-tactile technologies, but also expect a broader range of devices to offer this functionality and user experience. Capacitive switches do not have any moving parts or mechanical components, resulting in superior durability and prolonged life. Since these devices do not have any crevices, they reduce tooling costs and also do not allow any ingress of moisture, dirt or dust. Their flat surface also makes it easier to clean them regularly. While mechanical buttons can attract dust and tend to wear after repeated use over the years, capacitive technology can replace buttons with a clean and crisp user interface.
Compared to other mature user-interface (UI) technologies, capacitive switches have a thinner stack-up, resulting in sleek, elegant and compact designs. They eliminate many design layers and components from the circuitry, thereby reducing the cost of the device. The images below provide a comparison between the stack-up layers of the most common UI technologies available in the market today.
Although the early development of capacitive switches utilized only printed circuit boards (PCBs), the design possibilities have greatly expanded by employing flexible printed circuits. By detecting and utilizing changes in the projected capacitive field, capacitive sensing technology allows you detect touch and thereby, spin a wide gamut of contemporary touch interfaces and design layouts. Capacitive sensor technologies also give you the additional freedom of enhancing the user experience by integrating feedback mechanism like backlighting or haptics.
The key advantages of capacitive touch technology are:
- No moving mechanics
- Thinner stack-up
- Sleek and modern aesthetics
- Easy cleanability
- Higher durability and improved reliability
- Design flexibility
- Backlighting and haptics capability
With the shift towards touch technology, an increasing number of companies are flocking towards integrating capacitive touch in their products. Common applications of capacitive touch technology include smartphones and tablets, home appliances and electronics, medical devices, car consoles, ATM machines, gaming consoles, vending machines, security and communication systems, hand-held devices, electronic sensors, fluid-level sensing machines, proximity sensors, and even airplane cabins.
To learn more about the fundamentals and integration of capacitive touch technology, download our guide here.