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Nexus Alpha Selects Zytronic’s ZYBRID® for Touchscreen-Based Training Application for Train Drivers


03 June 2008

Zytronic’s ZYBRID touch sensor has been selected by Nexus Alpha for use in an interactive training application for train drivers.  Using Zytronic’s projected capacitive technology (PCT™), and software developed by Track Access Services Ltd., the application is designed to help new and current train drivers familiarise themselves with specific routes, and offer Web-based tutorials and driver assessments to teach and refresh skills.

Nexus Alpha is a specialist provider of technology solutions to the public transport industry and has indepth experience of building rugged applications for the rail environment.  The company developed a 26” widescreen LCD unit for use in high stress areas of the rail network and was asked by Track Access Services Ltd., a specialist provider of systems and projects for transportation in the UK and Europe, to modify their existing LCD unit to incorporate a touchscreen.  Nexus Alpha selected Zytronic’s ZYBRID as the touchscreen of choice.

Zytronic’s ZYBRID sensors use an array of micro-fine capacitors embedded behind the front substrate material.  The ability to sense touch can be up to 20mm below the interactive surface, which ensures a high level of protection from dust, dirt, and other contaminants and will continue to operate even if the surface becomes scratched.  PCT can combine easily with robust materials such as tempered glass or polycarbonate, meaning it can create a non-surface active solution that can withstand extremely harsh environments.  It is easy to integrate, and because it is drift-free, maintenance costs are extremely low.

“This application is designed for use in driver mess rooms and also in classroom situations, so we needed a cost-effective, robust touchscreen solution that could operate efficiently and reliably without any concerns about performance in a rugged environment,” says Julian Coleman, engineering department manager at Nexus Alpha.  “Having worked with Zytronic on other projects we were already impressed with the company’s technology.  ZYBRID is an ideal solution for this application because we did not have to make any compromise; it can be operated with a gloved hand, provides a tough resilient surface and does not reduce screen clarity – something that other technologies can suffer from especially where incident light is significant.  Zytronic was able to provide us with a bespoke design rapidly and cost-effectively.”

The software from Track Access includes a “virtual” route learning system which enables drivers to visualise and familiarise themselves with a route.  Drivers can also use the touch interactive functionality of the application to complete mandatory, periodic training and assessment modules. 2 “Virtually anyone can use a touchscreen because they are so intuitive and user-friendly, enabling drivers to work through the route learning systems and tutorials at their own speed, regardless of their perception of technology and without the need for a tutor to be seated next to them,” says Alison Butler, project manager, Track Access Services Ltd.  “A touchscreen will only do what you want it to do which means the likelihood of user error is significantly reduced.  The software we provide requires good optical clarity on the screen for the route learning systems, and very fast response time to touch for the tutorials.  We believe that ZYBRID has met these requirements and by using a reliable touchscreen solution we can offer users of this application a satisfactory method of training and learning in a way that is less daunting than using a keyboard and mouse.”