Touchscreens


Since the beginning of our computing experience, we were tethered to the computer either through a mouse or a touchpad on the computer.  This devices enabled us to interact with our e-mail, games, browsers etc. and enabled us to navigate through the many options that exist in this wild, wild world.  But now all of that has been changed by the touchscreens available on our smartphones and tablets.  And what a new phenomenon this is.  We push, we pinch, we use all five fingers to make new and even more amazing things happen, all with our phalanges.

And this reminds me of a song:

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Now, I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/d/doors/touch+me_20042756.html ]
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

Touch Me – The Doors

A classic of course.  But now back to the touchscreen topic.  What is a touchscreen you might ask?

A touchscreen is an electronic visual display that can detect the presence and location of a touch within the display area. The term generally refers to touching the display of the device with a finger or hand. Touchscreens can also sense other passive objects, such as a stylus. Touchscreens are common in devices such as game consoles, all-in-one computers, tablet computers, and smartphones.

The touchscreen has two main attributes. First, it enables one to interact directly with what is displayed, rather than indirectly with a pointer controlled by a mouse or touchpad. Secondly, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device that would need to be held in the hand (other than a stylus, which is optional for most modern touchscreens). Such displays can be attached to computers, or to networks as terminals. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

There are many forms of touch technology. The first touchscreen appeared in 1965, and while we think of them as a relatively recent development, it’s easy to forget we’ve been using them in devices like cash machines for nearly 30 years.

More recently, we’ve seen two main types of touchscreen technology. The older resistive type uses a screen comprising two separate layers with a small gap between them. Pressing down on the top layer makes it touch the bottom layer, and the connection is recorded as a tap. The biggest drawback with resistive screens is that they’re far less accurate than other technologies, and most don’t support multi-touch.

Capacitive touchscreens use glass displays insulated with a conductive layer. As our fingers are also conductive, touching the screen produces a small charge that produces a disruption in the screen’s electrostatic field, which is recorded. Capacitive technologies are more accurate than resistive, and support multi-touch gestures.

Despite their obvious advantage, capacitive screens have their disadvantages too: they rely on the charge in your finger, so they won’t work with gloves.

These days, a new technology based on old standards is gaining ground. Optical touchscreens are developed by a company called NextWindow.  Working together, two optical sensors track the movement of any object close to the surface by detecting the interruption of an infra-red light source. The light is emitted in a plane across the surface of the screen and can be either active (infra-red LED) or passive (special reflective surfaces).

At the heart of the system is a printed circuit controller board that receives signals from the optical sensors.  Its software then compensates for optical distortions and triangulates the position of the touching object with extreme accuracy.

Some techno babble for you today.  All I know is that I love my iPad and my iPhone and the touchscreen capabilities are just awesome.

Enjoy the day.

Webman

About Stephen Webster

My blog is focused on sharing knowledge, leadership insights and fun so that you can have a better day and reap the benefits for your professional and personal life. I write about topics that I find interesting. I hope you can find value in the humor, joy, fun, ideas, innovations, insights and trends that I will regularly share with you.

Posted on July 11, 2012, in Business, Convergence, Life, Small Business, Technology, Work and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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