TRW Automotive launches in-vehicle touchpad sensor

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 10, 2012

Supplier TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. has launched an in-vehicle touchpad sensor, which recognizes finger-drawn numbers and letters. The company explained that this technology will enable occupants to control devices and accessories with less distraction. TRW disclosed that this sensor will be ready for production this fall.

Production contracts were not announced. However, spokesperson John Wilkerson stated that the company has received "definite customer interest" in Europe, where the equipment was primarily developed. The sensor utilizes superior handwriting recognition software to interpret letters, symbols and numbers. It then initiates commands.

For example, an "A" scribbled on the touch pad could switch operations over to audio controls, Wilkerson explained. TRW stated that utilizing a touch-pad sensor rather than a keyboard-like input lowers driving deviations by 78%. Vehicle manufacturers would determine where they want to place the sensor. However, TRW disclosed that the best location is in the door armrests or the center console as determined by its tests. 

Advanced engineering manager Frank Koch at TRW's Body Control Systems explained that the sensor is the first to have the ability to distinguish symbols like the Chinese characters without relying on transcription aids. He further stated that the touch-pad technology has "huge potential" for the vehicle markets across the world.  TRW explained that it also allows the driver to control applications like mobile phones, radio and navigation systems. It can also send messages from the touch pad.

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