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Tapping into touch screens

Most of us are pretty familiar with touch screens. We use this technology daily with our phones, computers, at the ATM, or at the grocery store checkout. Even restaurants have implemented touch display ordering and payment right at the table. Even though we’re constantly tapping and swiping our screens all day long, few of us can actually answer the question: how do touch screens work?

We’re here to help uncover the mystery behind these interactive screens. Together, we can finally dispel the rumor that touch screens are operated by miniature robot elves completing your pointer finger’s many commands. Let’s discuss the most common touch screen technologies, how you can differentiate them, how they work, and how these technologies have impacted our daily lives.

Capacitive vs resistive touch screens

With the first touch screen debuting in 1965, we’ve seen incredible advancements in touch screen technology and computing technology in general. If we told E.A. Johnson that over 2 billion people currently carry touch screens in their pockets every day, he probably wouldn’t have believed us. But that same technology he developed for the Royal Radar Establishment helped shape the future of the modern touch screen technology that we use daily [1].

There are many iterations of touch screen technology including infrared and surface acoustic wave (SAW), but there are two that most of us are familiar with. The most common smart touch board screens we interact with today are capacitive and resistive touch screens. Let’s get to know how these technologies work, and where you’ll see each.

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