Five years ago, touch screens on kitchen and laundry appliances were concepts shown at CES to attract attendees and demonstrate the visionary leadership of the company. Today, white goods appliances with touch screens are a reality, at least for a few high-end appliances. With the Internet of Things (IoT), the vison for the future is touch screens expanding to more and lower-cost appliances. Driven by internet connectivity and app-enabled features for users, a touch screen human machine interface (HMI) solves several operating environment issues and provides aesthetic options as well.
Capacitive touch technology, mainly for touch buttons, sliders and wheels, has already been widely adopted in white goods applications to replace mechanical buttons and knobs. In addition to providing a system cost reduction, capacitive touch technology provides reliability improvements since mechanical buttons or knobs break easier over time or stick when confronted with water, grease or fat, all substances usually seen in kitchens and laundry rooms. Also, touch sensors located underneath or behind a glass or plastic surface provide an easy way of cleaning the surface and enable a variety of stylish design options.