It’s something we already take for granted: when 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 want it to do, when we want it done, and all at the touch of a fingertip. It was not too far back that touchscreen technology was a source of wonder. Today, touchscreen technology is a given for many of the latest gizmos—from tablets to GPS units.
While most of us use this technology on a daily basis, most of us do not know how it works. How does a screen know what to do when we touch an icon? There are various types of touchscreen technologies but they all operate based on a similar idea.
This is the most common form of touchscreen technology. Resistive touchscreens are coated with an electrically conductive layer. Your fingertip changes the electrical current whenever you touch it. This sends a message to the device’s controller telling it what action you would like to perform. This technology is more affordable than other touchscreen technologies and also less sensitive.
Surface wave touchscreen
This type of touchscreen is popular as well. It relies on ultrasonic waves that pass over the touchscreen. When you touch the panel, you essentially change the wave. Depending on how and where it is changed, specific data is given to the device’s controller to relay what action to preform.
Devices that rely on capacitive touchscreens tend to have the sharpest image quality. Capacitive touchscreens are coated with a material that sends a continuous electrical current across the sensor. Fortunately, the human body is also a form of electrical device. This means that when you touch the screen you absorb some of the current. The device registers this disturbance, causing it to send information to its controller. The unit will then perform the action which you requested.
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.