Membrane keypads are becoming increasing more popular. They live up their namesake by featuring a membrane-like design rather than separating moving keys. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at membrane keypads, revealing five fun facts about them and how they work.
They Have Three Layers
Membrane keypads are designed in a variety of different configurations, each of which has its own unique characteristics and properties. Most membrane keypads, however, feature three layers. Two layers consist of conductive traces, while the middle layer is a space consisting of air or some other inert gas/material. The middle spacer layer has holes in which the keys press; thus, separating the two other outer layers.
They Have Minimal Tactile Feedback
While membrane keypads are often the preferred choice in many industrial applications, they still have some drawbacks. Among the most notable drawbacks is the minimal amount of tactile feedback produced by membrane keypads. Unlike traditional mechanical keypads, there’s little-to-no feedback. This makes error-free typing difficult. But given the vast array of benefits associated with membrane keypads, many users still prefer them over their mechanical counterpart.
Available in Early Home Computers
Some people assume that membrane keypads are a relatively new phenomenon, first appearing in recent industrial machines and devices. However, they’ve actually been around for several decades now. According to Wikipedia, membrane keypads were even used in some of the first home computers, dating back to the early 1980s. Since then, they’ve made their way into numerous other applications, including consumer devices, household appliances and more.
Protection from Moisture and Debris
Why are membrane keypads such a popular choice of input for electronic devices? Well, one of the reasons why they are preferred is because they are naturally resistant to moisture, dust, dirt and debris. The fundamental design of a membrane keypad protections against intrusion from such elements. While mechanical keypads have separate moving parts, allowing for the intrusion of moisture and debris, membrane keypads do not. They feature a single membrane layer with underlying pressure pads, which in turn protects against the intrusion of elements.
Function via Electronic Switch
Membrane keypads are essentially a type of electronic switch. This means when you press a key, it completes the circuit. And using this circuit, the connected device can identify which key was pressed.