Next-generation touch switches adapt to automated driving

Next-generation touch switches adapt to automated driving

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Autonomous driving calls for progressive human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that allow the driver to lean back and maximize comfort while driving. Seats and door trims will rise in relevance when designing HMIs as they are always closest to the driver. In SAE autonomy level 3 vehicles (conditional driving automation) and above, it is assumed that the driver will take a relaxed posture within a range where he/she is always ready to take control if the system is unable to execute the task. However, when the driver enters this position the car’s centre display and instrument panel will be out of the occupant’s reach. Seats and door trims are ideal places for user interfaces as they allow a driver to effortlessly control the functions from the lean-back position. 

Conventional capacitive touch sensor films may not be able to withstand stretching required for three-dimensional processing. With Canatu’s bendable and transparent Carbon NanoBud (CNB) film, it is possible to incorporate touch switches that conform to the shape of the door trim grip. Together with TS Tech’s decorative door trim technology, the solution offers intuitive user experience and beautiful design. Touch switches feature lighting which remains discreetly hidden until the switches are activated.

“With this 3D touch technology, virtually any surface in the car can be made smart and functional”, explains says Canatu CEO Juha Kokkonen. “By integrating 3D touch switches into the seats, door trims and other automotive interiors, we are enabling a more convenient and comfortable driving experience while offering OEMs differentiation possibilities through higher degree of design freedom.”

In the demonstrator, functions are divided into upper and lower operating areas that are activated by two grip detection sensors located on the side of the door handle. Upon activation, touch switches and lights turn on in the respective operating area. In addition to forward and backward adjustments, the seatback recline can be altered, and the power seat can be raised or lowered and tilted, to suit the comfort of the driver / passenger. When the hand is released from the door handle, touch switches are disabled, and lighting turns off. 

More information:

A video animation can be found here

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