Capacitive Switching System Takes to the Skies

2nd February 2006
ES Admin

A new non-mechanical switching system has been developed by Wessex Advanced Switching Products (WASP) and has already been specified by a leading aircraft seat manufacturer. The capacitive switching system has been incorporated in the control system for a new and sophisticated range of seats being used by a major airline in their new Airbus A340 aircraft.

The company makes stylish, easy to use seat, entertainment and environmental controls which add to the passenger’s in-flight experience.

WASP has used a conventional printed graphic overlay which is used together with a new electronics design to operate the switch via the user’s natural body capacitance. This means no mechanical failures as there is no mechanical movement in the switches.

Operation is detected by Qprox, a capacitive sensor developed by the Quantum Research Group, which scans the translucent material directly beneath the front panel. Projecting these ‘sensing fields’ through dielectric material makes the panels extremely robust. The same system can be used to create touch screen operation and enable the use of a stylus or other pointing device. Switching sensitivity is easily adjusted and the front layer is ‘wipe clean’.

By using this technology to overcome local environmental conditions which normally disrupt switching, WASP has also been able to use a variety of modern materials and the latest lighting technologies to create stunning effects.

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