PCT(TM) shows its touch sensing capabilities within the home environment
Touch sensor specialist Zytronic has been working closely with domestic appliance leader Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH) in the development of its latest full surface induction cooktop (the recently launched CX 480) for its premium Gaggenau brand product portfolio. The flagship ceramic hob utilises Zytronic's innovative Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT(TM)) to create a kitchen appliance that is as stylish as it is practical.
The CX 480 hob has an edge to edge cooking area, with an array of induction elements mounted beneath a durable glass ceramic surface, so that up to four pots and pans of various shapes or sizes can be placed anywhere upon it. The inductors react to the presence of ferrous cookware automatically and generate heat rapidly, according to the previously selected power level. In what is believed to be the first in this type of application introduced worldwide, Brand Design Gaggenau has created an intuitive user interface operated through a touch-enabled TFT display. It allows the intuitive selection of the cookware and automatic adjustment of heat settings and timers. An information key can also provide the user with additional operating instructions.
The CX 480's display employs a 6.5 inch (165 mm) version of the Zytronic ZYBRID® customised touch sensor. In a demonstration of capability, the touch sensor's accompanying controller chipset together with a customized firmware has been integrated within the hob's motherboard.
Every one of Zytronic's PCT touch sensors consists of an intricate matrix of ultra-thin conductive capacitors, which are just 10 µm in diameter, embedded into a laminated substrate. A special feature of the technology (and utilised by BSH in this application) is its ability to be mounted behind a thick glass or plastic overlay, thereby protecting the touch sensor from sources of potential damage. As a result touch sensors using PCT sensors are much more durable and typically have far longer life spans than those using traditional resistive or surface capacitive sensing technologies, and can therefore be used in the most demanding touch applications.
PCT touch sensors may be used without the need for a bezel or frame around the active area. This means they are ideally suited to support aesthetically pleasing, smooth-fronted designs that consumers are increasingly expecting in everyday touch sensors, thanks to popular products like Apple's iPad.
Since cooking with induction is quicker, more precise and has greater energy efficiency, the task has been to develop a cooktop which incorporates a number of technical innovations in a sleek, modern design. Finding a touch sensor solution that could meet performance and design requirements was not easy. The technology had to provide outstanding reliability, even in high temperatures. Crucially for the design, it was also critical that the sensor was capable of smooth touch operation, even when mounted behind a totally flat, easy to clean glass ceramic surface. Zytronic's projected capacitive technology has more than met BSH's brief.
"This was an amazing opportunity for us to show PCT's superior performance and capability in an exciting new market," states Mark Cambridge, Zytronic's Chief Executive. "Zytronic's unique sensing technology has allowed BSH to demonstrate its versatility in creating a fully touch enabled home appliance which is as tough as it is beautiful. By using PCT in the hob, they have created a fully touch interactive user interface in the CX 480 which is effectively invulnerable to the wear and tear it is certain to receive through regular use, cleaning, impacts and scratches from kitchen ware, and exposure to high temperatures inevitable in such an application."