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Capacitive Sensing Brings a Human Touch to Grips and Joysticks

  • Capacitive sensing in garbage truck


    Angelo Assimakopoulos – Director of Sales, OTTO Controls


    Capacitive touch sensing is an excellent technology that introduces new features in human to machine interface (HMI) for next generation Grips and Joysticks.  This evolving sensor technology now enables equipment manufacturers to provide enhanced human interactions. OTTO introduces Grip SenseTM to its grip portfolio by offering the new sensor capabilities as an option within an assortment of grips.

    OTTO is partnering with System Integrators and Equipment Manufacturers to apply its Grip Sense technology in their applications to sense Operator Presence to activate the functional controls on the grips and to provide switching functions using capacitive touch sensing.  Grip Sense can prevent any inadvertent activation of controls in the grip unless an operator’s hand is positioned on the grip.  This improves the controls and safety features for the equipment.

    What is Capacitive Sensing?

    Capacitive Sensing is essentially a proximity sensor that provides the ability to detect the presence of conductive objects (like a user’s hand or finger) without any actual physical contact with the sensor (i.e. through glass or plastic cases).   The smartphone is the most common device that utilizes capacitive sensing technology for the touch screen. A capacitive touch screen (like that of a smartphone) utilizes the electrical properties of human skin rather than the pressure to activate the device (i.e. the common touch screen).

    Capacitive Sensing technology (CS) is ubiquitous in our world, from our smartphones, to trackpads, tablets and computers.  New use cases like Operator Presence for activating controls systems, further expands this technology.

    Grip Applications

    The value of this CS capability is significant.   Imagine if each and every actuation on a smartphone were an individual switch or button on the dashboard of a vehicle. There would be hundreds of options and the driver’s eyes would not be on the road.

    CS equipped components put more of the operator control right in the palm of their hands.

    OTTO’s latest foray into CS components involves the development of an OTTO G3-C type grip, on a JH Joystick Base, with Grip Sense. 

    Our most recent application, an OTTO grip equipped with Grip Sense was designed and installed in an armrest console for a snow removal truck.  The grip handle houses the CS, so that the contour of the grip is not compromised for the desired comfort of the user. The grip provides many functions including the ability to move the plow blade up and down, activate the truck bed up or down, and activate the salt spreader.  These functions are integrated into the grip, allowing for the repositioning of these functions from the dashboard and other armrest areas.

    CS is also useful for the detection of Operator Presence.   The grip equipped with Grip Sense can sense the presence of an operator’s hand which enables the necessary functions.  However, if there is no hand on the grip, the sensing program deactivates the functions, providing safety and security for the operator and property.

    Working with partner companies - the armrest architect and the cab manufacturer - OTTO was able to design a solution that fully met the application requirements, providing operator presence, functionality, safety and simplicity.

    OTTO controls are designed for demanding applications, and is a one stop solution for controls, grips and joysticks.  Find us at



         Capacitive Touch Switch                G3-C grip with Grip Touch Switch option


  • 3/14/2023

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