Touchscreen technology was invented back in the 1960s by Canadian researcher E.A. Johnson, but it has come a long way since its inception. Today, most people use touchscreen technology in their everyday life whether they’re on their smartphone, at the grocery store, or withdrawing money from the ATM. In this article, we’re discussing how touchscreen technology has changed over the years, how it’s used today, and where the future of the touchscreen tech is headed.
Where it started
Before we discuss how touchscreens are used in today’s technology, it’s important to talk about where the technology began. The two most common types of touchscreen technology we see today are capacitive and resistive touchscreens.
Capacitive screens were actually the first kind of touchscreen invented, but they’re most like the ones we’re familiar with today. Capacitive screens are made up of layers of glass and plastic that communicate with a conductive plate that detects energy that comes in contact with the screen. When you touch a part of the screen, the device recognizes this as a “touch event” which signals a certain response that’s displayed on your screen. Capacitive screens are commonly used in smartphones and all in one touchscreen computers.
Resistive screens use the same idea as capacitive screens to function, but instead of conducting energy to initiate a response, a resistive screen relies on pressure applied to what are essentially buttons beneath the layers of the screen. When one layer makes contact with the other, that triggers a response from the system.
You’ve likely seen resistive touchscreens on ATMs and credit card processing systems, but they’ve become a little less common as of late. Resistive screens are typically more durable than capacitive screens thanks to the heavy layer of plastic on top. Another characteristic of resistive screens are that they’re generally a bit darker than capacitive screens and have kind of a dark green hue, whereas capacitive screens are typically lighter and brighter.
Where we see it now
We see touchscreen technology just about everywhere these days—there are touchscreen refrigerators, touchscreen game devices, phones, restaurant ordering systems, and more.
Touchscreen technology has stuck to its roots since its invention in the 1960s, but the capabilities have vastly improved. Now, instead of only being able to register a single touch, today’s screens are considered multi-touch because they can respond to multiple touch events at once. For example, if you’re an iPhone user, you know that in order to zoom in on your phone, you have to use two fingers to hone in on a certain image on your screen—this mechanism wouldn’t have been possible in the early days of touchscreen tech, but it has become the norm for us now. In addition, researchers say that there have been improvements in the accuracy and speed of touchscreen processing systems which has made interfacing with our devices easier than ever.
Where it’s headed
Touchscreen technology is likely only going to become more and more popular over the next few years, and we’re likely to see it in just about everything we do. We can expect big companies such as Apple, Sony, and LG to continue to make improvements on the quality of touchscreen products by manufacturing larger screens with more accuracy and more applications for touchscreen technology. In addition, experts say that touchscreen users can look forward to more durable screens coming their way—meaning that the days of squashing your iPhone screen at the drop of a hat could soon be over.
But where else can touchscreen technology really go when we see it used in our daily lives already? The truth is, the potential for touchscreen tech is really limitless. One way we could see it develop is by taking the “screen” out of touchscreen and instead projecting it onto other objects such as touchscreen walls and tables. This development could be especially helpful in academic and entertainment settings.
Touchscreen technology certainly isn’t going anywhere. Not only will the technology become more useful, but we’re likely to see touchscreen technology applied to all areas of our lives from education and healthcare to entertainment and casual use. Where would you like to see touchscreen technology evolve? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!