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TRW's Capacitive Touch Sensing - Interior Control at Your Fingertips

LIVONIA, Mich., May 20, 2009 -- TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. , through its subsidiaries, is breaking new ground in the development of Capacitive Touch Sensing Technology for interior controls. The new touch sensing technology replaces traditional buttons and knobs and allows occupants to control vehicle functions with a fingertip - similar to touch screen technologies used in consumer electronics.

There are many potential benefits for the use of capacitive touch sensing, and TRW has already developed its Touchpad technology to include a multifunction control module which can interface with driver information and communication systems. A key feature is the capability for handwriting recognition that the system recognizes as shortcut commands. This combines control functions to help reduce driver distraction and enables fast and intuitive operation of mobile phones and navigation systems.

In addition touch sensor controls present significantly thinner surfaces than traditional mechanical controls such as knobs, buttons or sliders, and are lighter in weight. They are also flexible and can be spread over more complex, uneven surfaces providing numerous styling and design options. The end result is a seamless surface that can accommodate increased functionality while eliminating historical packaging, fit, and finish challenges.

"With nearly a decade of research and development in capacitive touch sensing, TRW has made great strides and we are very excited for the future of this technology," according to Victor Peltola, Director of Sales for TRW Body Control Systems, North America. "As interiors evolve to reflect the wider trends in electronics, TRW is at the forefront of technologies that will transform interiors into a more customized and efficient space for occupants."

And capacitive touch fits very well into the trends of personalization and customization. Through the use of advanced materials, touch sensor surfaces can be semi-translucent and backlit with customized colors. The production process also offers more flexibility and makes it easier and less expensive to experiment with new functions and designs.