Things You Didn’t Know About Touchscreens

Harley Dixon
June 8, 2020 0 Comment

Touchscreen is literally all around us these days. It’s on our phones, our watches, our cars, our fridges, and even public transport. An idea that seemed so revolutionary not that long ago is now completely commonplace – like the internet and sliced bread. In fact, the touchscreen industry is now worth well upwards of 31.9 billion Dollars.

The technology has infiltrated every single industry around the world, not just the obvious. So what is it about this tech that has us so intrigued? It’s probably the fact that it simply is so much easier to use than buttons and other physical methods of inputting data.

It’s Not Really That New

It’s true, touchscreen has only become commonplace in the last ten years or so. The first iPhone back in 2007 probably has a lot to do with that revolution. However, the technology has been around since 1965, when the first ever screen that could be manipulated by touch was invented. The inventor was E. A. Johnson. This screen is the foundation for the entire industry, but it could only read one touch.

The technology took a leap forward in 1977. The organization called Elographics revolutionized the idea by building a glass touch interface. This screen could read more than one touch at a time, allowing for new gestures and options on the interface.

Two Types Of Touch

Because of these two different revolutions in the technology, you get two types of touchscreen. The first is called resistive and the second is called capacitive. The first is the most basic type and has quite an elegant, simple way of working. Essentially, there are two sheets of glass lying on top of each other but not touching. As you press your finger to the surface, the sheets touch at that point and complete the circuit.

This type works on pressure only and you can use anything to create it – your finger, a stylus, a twig, anything. However, it only reads one touch at a time so can’t be used for complex technology. You’ll likely find this kind of screen being used in information kiosks and other public screens.

The second type of touchscreen is far more complex and actually needs the human body to operate. The capacitive screen uses a body’s ability to conduct electricity to complete the circuit and alter the electrostatic field of the device.

You can get a stylus that works on this type of screen, but it needs to be a special one that contains conductive materials. This type of screen is also a lot more durable and won’t break so easily because there isn’t a gap between the layers of the screen. These are often used on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets these days.

The Future

As the technology evolves, we’re seeing some amazing things happen. For one, a surface no longer needs to be built as a touchscreen in order to operate as one. Projectors are being developed that will turn any flat surface into a touchscreen.