Within Reach: Touch Screen Technology

We’ve gotten very personal with our technology.  With recent advances in social media, I think it’s clear that technology is taking on a more personal approach.  At any given time, many people are within reaching distance of their computer, tablet, and/or smart phone.  There has also been an increasing access to who and when people are on the web and interacting with their personal technologies.  The advancement of touch screens supports this tech-intimacy by bringing us one step closer – relieving the duties of the trusty mouse and keyboard.  The added convenience factor of needing fewer components combined with the fact that it brings you screen-to-finger close piqued my curiosity about touch screens and how they actually work.

boy using touch screen

Wikipedia

There are three different types of touch screen technologies: resistive, capacitive, and infrared.  Resistive works with two layers, the top layer absorbs the movement of the finger or stylus and transmits the location to the bottom layer.  Capacitive only works with a bare finger touch and functions by currents in the corners tracking the position of the finger on the screen.  Infrared is heat-sensitive and requires the sensation of a warm object (like your finger) to apply its grid system to determine the location on the screen.  To see an infographic that shows the similarities and differences among the touch screen technologies as it applies to phones, check out Cricket.com Touch Screen Infographic.

Once I started really thinking about it, I realized how often we come in contact with touch screens on a daily basis.  Other than the obvious touch screen phones, tablets, iPods, e-book readers, etc., we also use them at the ATM, payment terminals at the store, thermostats, movie theater kiosks, airport kiosks, copiers, and RedBox to name a few.  They started appearing in cars in recent years, and there’s an increasing trend of adding touch screens to home appliances, creating a modern-edge appeal to consumers.

Advanced Kiosks Touch Screen

Advanced Kiosks Touch Screen

Dell ST2220T LCD Touchscreen

Dell ST2220T LCD Touch Screen

Electrolux Linux Refrigerator

Electrolux Linux Refrigerator

With the increasing popularity  and adoption of touch screens, it makes me wonder what other consumer product categories will capitalize on this technology or how the ones in existence will advance.  Another technology that seems to be gaining headway is the motion sensor control.  Microsoft’s Xbox 360 created some buzz when they released their motion sensor game console.  The new Samsung Smart TV with “gesture control,” voice control, and face recognition seems likely to start a trend with their innovative features.  Is it possible for this technology to translate to other products?

Samsung smart TV

Samsung Smart TV

Some useful links:

Touch Screen Solution: How a Touch Screen Works

Wonderopolis:  How Do Touch Screens Work?

How Stuff Works:  How Do Touch Screens Know Where You’re Touching

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