Atmel launches unlimited-touch controllers

September 14, 2009 // 2:08 p.m.

Tags: #atmel #capacitive #large-touchscreen #maxtouch #multitouch #multi-touch #mxt224 #resistive #touchscreen

Atmel is hoping to push the state of the touchscreen art forward with its latest range of controller chips, dubbed maXTouch.

As reported over on Electronista, the maXTouch technology offers some pretty convincing improvements over current controllers: an ultra-rapid 250Hz refresh rate, the option of creating capacitive - rather than resistive - touchscreens of more than 10" diagonals, and - perhaps most impressive of all - support for a unlimited number of simultaneous touch points.

As if all that wasn't enough, the company is claiming that touchscreens based around maXTouch will benefit from the lowest power draw of any capacitive touchscreen in its class.

The first version of the technology to be released, the mXT224, features 224 tracking nodes and the ability to refresh the screen in 4ms. Interestingly, the mXT224 - which is a single-chip solution - supports both the use of a finger in the traditional capacitive manner and the use of a stylus, something normally left to less accurate resistive-style touchscreens. Videos from the company demonstrate the technology for the curious.

It'll be a short while before end-user products based around maXTouch are available, of course: while the mXT224 is already available, you're looking at $4.75 (£2.86) per unit providing you order more than a million. Despite this high cost of entry, Atmel has claimed that a variety of customers are integrating the technology into smartphone handsets and netbooks along with "other home electronics" - whatever that covers.

With rival Synaptics having recently launched a 10-finger capacitive touchscreen - the ClearPad 3000 - it will be up to the industry as to whether the ability to track more fingers than are available on both hands is enough of a selling point for the maXTouch chips.

Can you think of a use for a multi-touch enabled 10"+ tablet capable of tracking an unlimited number of simultaneous inputs? Share your ideas over in the forums.

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