The touch screen technology has become a part of our everyday life, ranging from smartphones in our pockets to interactive whiteboards in classrooms. Its benefits and ease of use are incomparable to anything else. Even toddlers play with smartphones more than they play with toys!
We have got so accustomed to the touch screens, that we find it difficult to use conventional devices. In spite of its popularity, very few people know how the technology actually works.
Different devices having touch technology may look similar in their working, but in reality there are different ways in which they operate. Most of the devices use the three types of touch described below.
1. Resistive Touch
Most of the interactive whiteboards in use today consist of resistive touch technology. It is based on the pressure sensitivity concept. There are two surfaces in-built in the screen. They are coated with conducting material and are separated by an air pocket between them.
When you touch the screen, there is a contact between the two surfaces. This generates pressure at the point of the touch and the signal is transmitted to the computer, which sends the output in the form of reaction to the touch. But there is one possible drawback to it. When you drag items from one point to the other, the pressure may get interrupted and the signal fails to reach the computer. Therefore, you don't get the desired reaction.
2. Capacitive Touch
On the other hand, most of the smartphones and tablets use capacitive touch technology. It consists of an electrostatic field on the screen. When a conducting material (your finger) comes in contact with it, the field is interrupted and the signal is sent to the processor to create the reaction to the touch. However, there is no signal generated when the material that touches the screen is insulated. That is why, you can't use your smartphone while wearing gloves.
Recently, some capacitive touch devices have been introduced that allow the use of specialized gloves, which can pass the conduction from the finger to the screen through the fiber.
3. Infrared or Optical Touch
The infrared touch technology is relatively new. It consists of light sensitive cameras that can detect any interruption in the light. Whenever you touch the screen, a shadow on the point of contact is created. Cameras detect it and send signal to the computer to generate the desired output.
As this technology works using the interruption of light, it can sense the difference between a finger, pen or some other object.
However, there are some disadvantages that limit the present use of infrared touch screens. Apart from being costly, they suffer parallax when the user hovers his finger over the screen. Also, their performance is affected by the presence of dirt. That is why, they demand extra protection.
In future, we can expect the collaboration of various technologies to overcome the drawbacks we encounter while using present day touch screens.
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