Algra in Germany has lunched a development kit for its strain gauge sensors that can add a touch sensor to any surface.
The Dynaforce strain gauges can be applied to metal, glass or wood with sheet thicknesses of between 0.3 and 1.2 mm. There is one of these sensors for each button on the circuit board and the network of sensors then detects fine mechanical deformations and uses the intelligent software to filter out interfering signals.
"The strain gauge technology recognises even the smallest deformations in the material layer," said Dieter Matter, CEO of the Algra Group. "This is enough to activate the button and trigger a function." This is made possible by intelligent software and a sensor network that is made up of strain gauges. These can determine where you are touching and thus activate the button.”
As the devices are force sensors, functions can be differentiated based on the force exerted upon the sensor. With a lamp, for example, a hard press of the button may cause the light to turn on, while a gentler press of the button could lower the brightness. Another possibility is visual feedback through an LED or a display.
The peel-and-stick capability in a wide range of temperatures (-40° C to +85° C) and operation while wearing gloves opens up are applications around the house, in an industrial setting, or in a public space, as well as applications with high demands on robustness and water resistance
The Dynaforce Demo and Developer Kit (above) includes optical, acoustic and haptic feedback. Once connected to a PC, the keys respond to a finger touch on the 1 mm thick aluminium front. The included USB stick contains the DesignStudio software.
The Demo and Developer Kit includes three identical 4-key modules with double-sided adhesive tape. This is used to create a prototype with custom materials.