Touchscreen Technology: How does it Work?

It’s something we already take for granted: whenever we touch an icon on the screens of our electronic devices, we expect something to happen. And not just anything, either; we anticipate our gadgets to do exactly what we’d like it to do, when we want it done, and all at the touch of a fingertip. It wasn’t too long ago that touchscreen technology was a source of wonder. Today, touchscreen technology is a given for a lot of of the latest gizmos—from tablets to GPS units.

But how do touchscreens work? What’s the technology behind them? Because there are many different types of touchscreen the answer isn’t that straightforward. Here we will explain just a few.

Resistive touchscreens

This is the most common and the most affordable type of touchscreen technology today. With resistive technology, screens are coated with an electrically conductive layer. Your fingertip causes the electrical current to alter when you touch the screen. The device’s controller receives the information and preforms the action you requested.

Surface wave touchscreen

Another popular form of touchscreen is the surface wave model. This kind of screen utilizes ultrasonic waves that pass over the touchscreen panel. When you touch the panel, you absorb a part of the wave. Again, this sends information to the device’s controller, which then tells the device what you want it to do.

Capacitive touchscreens

Capacitive touchscreens usually have the sharpest image quality. Devices using this technology are coated with a material that sends an electrical current across the screen. As the human body is electrical, whenever you touch the screen, you absorb some of the electric current which disrupts the flow across the device. Just as with the other types of touchscreen, the disruption sends information to the device’s controller. The device then performs the action that you requested, at the touch of a fingertip.

Fortunately, to enjoy touchscreen technology you don’t have to have a deep understanding of it. And you don’t have to be an engineer to realize this technology will become more popular, not less.


Posted on: 12.21.11