HMI technology: Behind the (touch) screens

Machine builders and system integrators at a recent display technologies conference showed interest in new technology from Gunze, and Tyco showed off a sleek new monitor design with Acoustic Pulse Recognition (APR) touch technology.


Austin, TX and Harrisburg, PA — Touchscreens are increasingly finding their way into industrial environments as manufacturers, upgrading their human machine interfaces (HMIs) to better accommodate humans, find this technology is making the task easier than ever. For example, machine builders and system integrators at a recent display technologies conference showed interest in new technology from Gunze that is optimized for use in direct sunlight. Separately, Tyco Electronics showed off a sleek new monitor design incorporating its Acoustic Pulse Recognition (APR) touch technology, which uses the sound of a stylus on a screen to activate the device.

At the August, 2008 Display Week trade show in Austin, TX, scientists, engineers, manufacturers, and users in the electronic-display industry gathered to view the latest developments.

Gunze Limited, Japan , is a multi-billion dollar company that is reportedly the largest manufacturer of resistive touch panels in the world, including polarizer and multiple anti-reflective configurations with polycarbonate and glass substrates. Gunze designs and manufactures 4-wire , 5-wire and 8-wire touch sensors in facilities in North America and Asia. Its Gunze U.S.A. division manufactures standard- and custom-designed touch panel solutions for industrial and other applications.

Gunze USA showcased three new optical films developed by its research and development group in Japan:

  • The EMI shielding film boasts 0.5 ohms/sq surface resistance and 80% optical transmissivity.

  • The heat-resistant film remains stable in temperatures up to 180 °C.

  • The highly-durable (HD) film can be made with pencil hardness values from 3-9 H. It has 91% light transmissivity and it exhibits thermal stability in temperature ranges in excess of 85 °C.

Gunze U.S.A. also introduced a new DR-12 line of touch panel controllers offers improved linearity and 12-bit accuracy, dual display functionality, improved ESD performance, 4-, 5- and 8-wire versatility, multiple termination options, and USB and serial connectivity. Available in integrated circuit and board-level versions, the DR-12 controller line “rounds out the breadth and depth of product offerings that Gunze U.S.A. brings to the touch marketplace,”

Acoustic touch technology

From its headquarters in Harrisburg, PA, Tyco Electronics’ Elo TouchSystems has introduced what it says is the first zero-bezel wide-aspect ratio touchmonitors with a 100% usable surface area. The zero-bezel design removes the frame, or bezel, of standard monitors “to create a seamless glass surface designed to showcase the wide-screen, high-definition experience that today’s consumers have come to expect from all forms of video,” says James Witkowski, Elo TouchSystems product manager. “One of our principal goals was to make our new touchscreens look less like computer monitors and more like a design element.”

Elo TouchSystems zero-bezel wide-aspect ratio touchmonitors with 100% usable surface

James Witkowski, Elo TouchSystems product manager, said, “One of our principal goals was to make our new touchscreens look less like computer monitors and more like a design element.”

Good design does not mean flimsy technology, however. The 1900L and 2200L touchmonitors are reportedlyechnology.

APR technology works by recognizing the sound created when the monitor’s surface is touched. This means users can interact with the touchscreens with virtually any kind of stylus—from a fingertip to the edge of a credit card. Both monitors also provide zero-drift performance and will never require recalibration, ensuring a long, low-maintenance functional life, according to the company

Use of touchscreens is increasing as users in many industries opt to upgrade their monitors. Industrial automation senior market analyst Mark Watson from IMS Research (with offices in Austin, TX and Wellingborough, UK) predicts increased adoption of new operator interfaces by machine builders in the worldwide food, beverage, andrge amounts of data, crucial in a sector where traceability is often required by law.”

In other industries, “the substantial size and growth of the Asia Pacific automotive industry and its high adoption rate of machine tool equipment will help drive [increased use of new operator interfaces] in the machine tool sector.

– Edited by Renee Robbins , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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