Touchscreens have become an integral part of our way of life. When we interact with a device that has a touchscreen, we expect it to execute the action we want without a second thought. It wasn’t too far in the past that the idea of a touchscreen was a dream. Yet, today we see it as a common feature in many devices.

How, exactly, does touchscreen technology work? How do so many of our screens know what to do when we touch the icons displayed on them? The answer isn’t that straightforward. That’s because there are a few different types of touchscreen technologies, and each of them works in a different way.

Resistive touchscreens

This is the most common and the most affordable type of touchscreen technology today. With resistive technology, screens are coated with an electrically conductive layer. Your fingertip causes the electrical current to alter when you touch the screen. The device’s controller receives the data and preforms the action you requested.

Surface wave touchscreen

Another popular type of touchscreen is the surface wave model. This kind of screen depends on ultrasonic waves that pass across the touchscreen panel. Whenever you touch the panel, you absorb a part of the wave. Again, this sends information to the device’s controller, which in turn tells the device what you would like it to do.

Capacitive touchscreens

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 over the sensor. The good news is, the body is also a form of electrical device. Consequently when you touch the screen you absorb some of the current. The device registers this disruption, causing it to send information to its controller. The unit will then perform the action that you requested.

It’s a good thing we don’t have to fully understand the touchscreen technology to enjoy it. But it is nice to have a grasp, if only slightly, on how a technology works that we use everyday, particularly as we know that touchscreen technology isn’t going away any time soon.

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