touchskin operation – boost your handheld devices

Operation with touchskin user interfaces is much less complex than with touch displays and therefore offers decisive advantages for handheld devices. The touchskin user interface can score even more when it comes to integrating operating functionality into the housing of your handheld device.

The simple touchskin operation for handheld devices

Handheld devices such as electric razors and toothbrushes, tools, medical devices or remote controls are usually held and operated with one hand. This results in very special requirements in terms of size, weight, ergonomics and operation.

One such special requirement that most handheld devices have to meet is the “blind” operating option. The operating area must be palpable and operated without looking. 3D shaped, seamless surfaces meet this requirement with finger guidance in the form of finger grooves. With a simple touch operation, in which touching also means activating at the same time, touching the control element can already cause an unintentional triggering. Here you can get by with gesture controls.

touchskin operation for handheld devices: finger guidance for swiping gesture
  • Example:
    Simply touching does not activate the touch switch, only a swiping movement along the finger recess triggers the desired action.

The multiskin all-in-one film composite

The heart of the implementation of touchskin user interfaces is a film composite specially designed for integration into smart surfaces. This combines conductor tracks, the touch sensors, electronic components, a light management system for backlit controls or displays and the decor in a compact, around 2 mm thin composite of thermoplastic films.

This film composite, the multiskin circuit carrier, can also be deformed in 3D and thus adapts perfectly to the special shape requirements of handheld devices.

In addition, other components and functions that should ideally be placed on the surface can be integrated into the multiskin film. In this way, proximity sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, antennas, heating structures and the like can be ideally positioned close to the device surface.

touchskin operation seamlessly and tightly integrated

touchskin user interfaces can be seamlessly and tightly integrated into the housing of handheld devices. For this purpose, the multiskin circuit carrier is bonded to the rest of the housing by gluing, welding or injection molding (film insert molding).

Which method is to be preferred depends on the one hand on the requirements, such as the required mechanical robustness or the tightness of the housing. On the other hand, economic aspects will have to be taken into account. An injection molding solution causes high initial costs due to toolmaking and automation, which can only be amortized from a certain number. An adhesive solution is quick and easy to implement, but causes comparatively high unit costs.

In summary, the advantages of touchskin operation for handheld devices

  • The layout, shape and feel of the touchskin user interfaces have always been specifically developed for the respective device and the respective operating situation. Operation is therefore very simple, intuitive and often blind.
  • The technology of the compact all-in-one multiskin circuit carrier enables the production of thin, light and 3D-shaped user interfaces.
  • The multiskin circuit carrier is seamlessly and tightly integrated into the housing of the handheld device, depending on the requirements. This means that the devices can also be used under harsh environmental conditions and are easy to clean.
touchskin operation for handheld devices:
All-in-one multiskin film composite

Example: touchskin for handheld devices in medical technology

Together with the customer terraplasma, the plastic electronic team developed a touchskin user interface for the medical technology product plasma care®. In addition to the usual requirements for handheld devices, the customer paid particular attention to the surface properties that have to be taken into account for a product in medical technology. This challenge was solved with a special hard coat coating on the user interface.

Project implementation

The experts at plastic electronic will also be happy to help you boost your handheld devices with touchskin.

touchskin operation for handheld devices: design sketches
  • Together with you, we will consider how we can use touchskin user interfaces for your existing or newly developed handheld devices to achieve the wow effect with your customers, which is so important for your success, through design, ergonomics, surface quality and operating concept.
  • We support you in development with our design guides and accompany you through the entire development process with design checks and usability tests.
  • We build the first prototypes as well as the necessary qualification and marketing samples for you in our plastic electronic manufactory. And we produce the touchskin user interfaces for you in series.