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Nexus Alpha Selects Zytronic’s ZYTOUCH® Touch Sensors for Enhanced Rail Services Information System


23 April 2009

A new railway passenger information terminal combining audio, visual, and touchscreen capabilities is entering service, using Zytronic’s proprietary Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT™). Its creator, Nexus Alpha, chose ZYTOUCH touch sensors for unrivalled durability, reliability, ability to create bespoke designs, and consistent performance under widely varying ambient conditions.

The Nexus Alpha MAIA AVT audio visual touch information terminal is designed for installation wherever transport information is useful, at rail and bus stations or on the street, indoors or outdoors, using touch technology to provide fast, easy access to information about rail services. The first units have just gone live at two locations on the UK east coast mainline and two more are planned to follow very shortly after the success of the initial units. The terminals have a broadband link to central information servers, which are updated in real time with data about services, schedules, and any possible disruptions. Passengers can easily navigate the system to find the information they need, by selecting options on the robust touch-enabled screen.

As the application is designed for use in unsupervised locations, the Nexus Alpha design team’s requirements were very specific. They needed a touch sensor solution that could offer high reliability and the ability to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use, including accidental and malicious damage. Nexus Alpha chose ZYTOUCH to ensure ease of use and error-free operation in all weather conditions and under ambient light, ranging from bright direct sunlight to night time use.

“Having worked with Zytronic previously, we already knew that only PCT could meet all of our performance requirements for MAIA AVT,” says Julian Coleman, engineering department manager, Nexus Alpha Ltd. “Zytronic provided extra technical support to match the system’s 6.5-inch screen size with an 8mm-thick laminated sensor, and this has helped create MAIA AVT as a physically tough solution offering benefits to our customers such as long operating lifetime and low maintenance costs.”

ZYTOUCH touch sensors are based on Zytronic’s unique PCT, and embeds the active sensing array between a front toughened glass panel to ensure protection and stability, and a rear supporting glass layer to provide a highly impact resistant, optically laminated and completely sealable overlay. The sensing array comprises a matrix of micro fine single strand capacitors positioned to form an XY grid. The near-invisible PCT strand capacitors are less than half the diameter of a human hair, which permits maximum light transmission from the LCD display behind and facilitates clear, unimpaired readability, even under bright lighting conditions. Unlike most other touch technologies, as PCT has no front-face-active sensing elements, it provides a high resistance to moisture, dirt or dust, is impervious to deep surface scratching and easy to wipe clean.Furthermore, PCT sensors are able to detect touches from a gloved hand and are also drift-free, meaning that recalibration is not necessary during the touch display lifetime.

“Touch-sensitive response was central to the MAIA AVT concept from the outset, as part of our mission to enhance access to information for customers of public transport services,” adds Coleman. “Being a fully customisable product, ZYTOUCH provided the essential physical qualities we needed, and Zytronic’s expertise to optimise aspects such as size and construction to meet our exact requirements was pivotal in delivering the complete solution on time and at the right price for our customer."