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'another option on the approach with the mpr121 that avoids polling'
I think you have another option on the approach with the mpr121 that avoids polling.
The chip and the breakout boards usually have an interrupt pin that will trigger an output when ever one of the switches is touched.
If you wire this to an input pin on the Expruino then you can use a setWatch function to execute a function to read the mrp1.touched function.