Electronics Technology


Panasonic releases its updated touch-sensitive knob

27 July 2022 Electronics Technology

Panasonic, in conjunction with Microchip, has launched an update to its existing Magic Knob, a capacitive knob ready for standard touch sensors for use in controlling automotive information displays.

As the size of interactive displays increases many automotive and industrial touch HMI designers are looking to merge the benefits of a mechanical rotary encoder input with the flexibility of these modern multi-touch displays. Panasonic has released its solution to this, a rotary knob combining intelligent capacitive and mechanical operation as well as providing haptic feedback.

Microchip developed the maXTouch Knob on Display (KoD) controller as the first automotive-grade touchscreen controller family to natively support the detection and reporting of capacitive rotary encoders, as well as mechanical switches on top of a touch panel. This controller is at the core of Panasonic’s Magic Knob technology.

The KoD technology eliminates the need for custom touch sensor patterns, providing designers with the ability to easily implement a different knob count, shape and position to accommodate a variety of end user products. The customised configurations are adjustable without changing the embedded firmware of the maXTouch KoD touch controller, leading to a faster and more flexible development cycle. The maXTouch KoD controller allows designers to keep the comfort of a rotary encoder input device but combine it with a modern and innovative interior design using smart surfaces and multi-touch displays.

An added benefit designers can expect to experience is the ease of building a sealed human machine interface (HMI) module, which is increasingly popular for in-home appliance and industrial applications. Using a knob on a display will also increase safety for the end user by removing the need to look at the display to make an adjustment while driving.

“Modern user interfaces commonly use multi-touch displays, removing mechanical keys for cutting-edge designs. Yet, functions like temperature control or audio volume adjustment remain best controlled though a rotary encoder,” said Clayton Pillion, vice president of the human machine interface business unit at Microchip Technology. “The new maXTouch KoD technology offers the benefits of both worlds by providing the support of a capacitive rotary encoder with a turnkey touch controller family and a comprehensive suite of dedicated tools for a fast implementation.”

The newly developed MPMK (Microchip Panasonic magic knob) allows placement of the knob anywhere on the touch panel. In addition to the rotating operation, it also comes with a vertical ring push function. Both functions can be customised to provide haptic feedback, offering the customers an ideal click feeling sensation. This haptic fine-tuning can be successfully engineered due to a profound mechanical design know-how, based on the long-term development of mechanical encoders.

Use of the Magic Knob is good news in terms of user friendliness and production efficiency. The knob even works for any kind of non-display application – as long as there is a capacitive sensor behind the respective flat or glass panel, the MPMK can be operated the same way.


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