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Lowest Power Capacitive Sensors with Auto-Calibration

Human interfaces that use capacitive sensors for proximity or touch control are changing the way we interact with electronics. The sensors require no actual pressing on the sensor area, and they work when the user is wearing gloves. A new, patented approach, which includes autocalibration, increases reliability in difficult environments. One popular way to use capacitive sensors is to replace mechanical switches. There are fewer parts involved, which saves cost and increases reliability, and the novelty of proximity/touch interfaces can make the end product more desirable. For example, the proximity feature can be used in cell phones and anti-tampering devices, to detect when the equipment is close to an object or not. Touch-free operation is also useful in environments that use hazardous or explosive materials, since no contact is required, and in medical applications, because the user can still control the system while wearing surgical gloves, and thus maintain a sanitary environment. Proximity sensing also benefits hermetically sealed applications, since the sensor works with dielectric material sandwiched between two electrodes.