Electronic Interface for EMF Keyboards
Custom Mixed Signal ASIC for ruggedised EMF Keyboard
Technologies used

    Full Custom Mixed Signal ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    321 Electronic Components
    322 Communication Equipment
    331 Medical Instruments
    333 Industrial Process Control

Screentec Ky is a company located in Oulu, Finland, whose main business area is in membrane keyboards and related interface electronics. Screentec was founded in 1988 and it employs now 25 people. The turnover in 1997 was 10 million Finnish marks. The company has developed a new technology for manufacturing keyboards to applications which require good resistance against vandalism and outdoor environment. The technology is based on Electromechanical film, EMFi, a thin, elastic electret film, which generates a charge signal when pressed.

The existing products of Screentec are keyboards consisting of EMFi elements and interface electronics installed in a protective cover made of materials such as aluminum, steel and plastics. The interface electronics for the existing products have been realized using PCB with standard surface mount components.

The objective of the AE was to design and manufacture a Full Custom Mixed Signal ASIC, which includes all the interface electronics required for a 16 key element. The rationale was to improve the competitiveness of the product by decreasing the production costs. The main benefits of the ASIC are the lower production and component costs of EMFi keyboard, totaling in 50% saving in the electronics and 35% saving on the whole product. The product will also be smaller and more reliable.

During the experiment we have learned about the technical and economical aspects of using ASICs. We have learned how to specify an ASIC and the basics of analog and digital ASIC design by designing ourselves functionally the analog and the logic sections of the ASIC. We have also learned about the design and NRE costs and the cost savings possible with ASICs. This ASIC and the experience gained during this project are very useful to us because there are several other applications of EMFi, which have the potential to become mass volume products.

The cost of the AE was 100 000 ECU and the duration was 12 months. The experiment started on 1.11.1996 and ended on 30.10.1997. We believe to reach the annual production volume of 25.000 pieces by year 2001. The investment will be paid back in 26 months. The Return on Investment calculated over the 6 years lifetime of the ASIC is average 39% annually.

The project succeeded according to plans and it showed that with good planning and right partners even a First User can get a mixed signal ASIC right first time. After this project we have a new version of the 16 key keyboard which is cheaper and easier to produce and which offers new features for configuring the keyboard output.


    Screentec Ky
    Satamatie 2
    FIN-90520 OULU

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Full Custom Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided Screentec Ky with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Fincitec Oy
Lumikontie 2
Postbox 11
FIN-94601 Kemi