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2-channel programmable touch sensor chip
14 August 2002, Electronics Technology

Quantum Research Group has released the QT320, claimed to be the world's first programmable touch sensor IC. The 8-pin part is based on Quantum's proprietary 'QProx' charge-transfer ('QT') technology.

It is a self-contained digital IC with a RISC core having two sensing channels. It can be used to create 'virtual buttons' through glass, plastic, stone, ceramic, and even wood. It can also turn small objects into touch controls.

The QT320 is designed specifically for human interfaces, for example in appliances, lighting controls, computer peripherals or anywhere a mechanical switch or button may be found; it can also be used for some material sensing applications. According to the company, the QT320 represents a new price point for its QProx touch sensor chips; the price per channel represents a 33% reduction per sensing channel over Quantum's QT110 family.

The QT320's RISC core uses signal-processing techniques pioneered by Quantum, designed to make the device survive real-world challenges such as 'stuck sensor' conditions and drift. The chip's EEPROM and communications port lets the user program the device from a PC using Quantum-supplied software. All operating parameters can be user-loaded into the part's internal EEPROM to configure sensitivity, drift compensation rate, response time, and output polarity. The part also features user-configurable automatic recalibration and output toggle mode.

The QT320 requires only an inexpensive capacitor per channel to function. Power consumption and speed can be traded off depending on the application; drain can be as low as 60 µA, allowing battery operation. Both 8-pin DIP and SOIC packages are available; and it is temperature rated for -40 to +85°C.


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