High reliability of Zytronic touch sensors a boon for electric car hire stations from IER
Once again the touch sensing products based on Zytronic’s proprietary Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT™) are helping to create a more environmentally sustainable future. The company has confirmed that, through French distribution partner Eurocomposant, its touch sensors have been specified for the user interfaces of IER’s Autolib’ electric car hire stations currently being deployed in Paris and 46 cities of Ile-de-France region.
Trials of Autolib’ in the French capital began in early October 2011. The intention of this project is to bring about a marked reduction in the city’s traffic congestion as well as curbing its pollution levels. The self-service hiring stations work on similar principles to the bicycle rental systems already being used in many urban areas across Europe. Commuters and tourists alike will be able to go their nearest Autolib’ station and use the automated payment system to gain access to an electric car. Then they can travel to their desired destination, simply dropping the vehicle off at a station nearby, where recharging will take place ready for the next customer.
The user interface in each hire station employs a 12.1-inch format ZYBRID®PCT™-based touchscreen made from 6mm thick toughened glass to ensure high levels of impact resistance. The anti-vandal and weather proof rugged touchscreens feature an anti-glare treatment on the front surface to improve readability in direct sunlight and enhance the overall experience. Proven and patented, Zytronic’s proprietary PCT™ touch sensing mechanism works on the principle of detecting subtle changes in the modulated charge signal passing through a matrix of micro-fine copper capacitors, embedded into a robust laminated substrate. These capacitors are only 10µm in thickness and so do not impinge on the brightness or clarity of the display. The substrate in which the sensor matrix is held can be made from thick glass or placed behind an additional protective overlay, giving it a high degree of durability and ensuring the touchscreen’s functional longevity.
Due to the nature of the touch sensing mechanism (requiring proximity to the users finger) and with the active area totally isolated from the external environment, its function is unaffected by the build-up of dirt, scratches, harsh chemicals, presence of liquid on the screen surface, vibration or shock – which would cause almost all alternative touchscreen technologies to fail in a short period of time. In practical terms, this means PCT™ minimises the need for costly repair call outs or ongoing maintenance work. Furthermore, the PCT™ sensors can be designed to forego a bezel around the perimeter of the screen, something that is mandatory for optical and infrared (IR), and most surface acoustic wave (SAW) touchscreens. As a result PCT™ enables OEMs to realise modern, attractive and easy to clean, smooth-fronted designs.
As Julien Berger, Sales Director at Eurocomposant, explains, “For this application it was necessary to provide a lightweight, highly robust touchscreen solution that was very well suited to installation in an open air environment and could ensure a prolonged operation. This is exactly the sort of setting that Zytronic touch sensors thrive in. They safeguard against the risk of system downtime and allow running costs to be kept to an absolute minimum.”
“When looking into the touch sensor component of this project, we knew that the sensing solution we would choose had to prove it could cope with the rigours of outdoor deployment, such as extremes of temperature, exposure to wind and rain, even potential vandalism,” says Delphine Dahan, Head of Purchasing at IER. “Specifying PCT™, with its formidable track record in public use and industrial sectors, has given us total assurance in continued high performance regardless of the conditions faced.”
“Autolib’ has the potential to change metropolitan transportation irrevocably and we are pleased to have played a part in it,” concludes Ian Crosby, Sales & Marketing Director at Zytronic. “PCT™’s drift-free operation and responsiveness in the most demanding environments, its resilience to the various forms of harm that can shorten the lifespan of other touch sensor technologies, plus crucially, its ability to be operated through gloved hands make it an optimal solution for this kind of application.”