Operating Sensors

© K. Selsam, Fraunhofer ISC
Steering wheel with integrated control elements.

Dielectric or capacitive elastomer pressure sensors can be used not only for pressure measurement, but also for the fulfillment of operating functions. In this case, the force exerted by a finger on the sensor is used to steplessly control or adjust a technical function. This can be the brightness of a light source, the volume of a loudspeaker or the speed of a motor. It is therefore not just a switch for switching on and off, but the stepless and pressure-strength-dependent setting of a target size. The target size reacts immediately to the current pressure strength of the finger. The elastic deformation of the sensor gives the operator, unlike a rigid user interface such as a touch display, at the same time a noticeable tactile feedback.


Because dielectric elastomer sensors are flexible and even stretchable, unlike rigid controls, they can also be applied to curved surfaces. As an example, the surface of a steering wheel is shown. By a targeted finger pressure, a desired function can be set instantaneously. Finally, the dielectric elastomer sensors can be integrated into soft, compliant environments and surfaces as control and operating elements. Examples include textiles, seat cushions or the compliant interior trim in the automobile.