Simply, touch screens, also called touch screens or touchscreens, are devices that let people to work on computers through the use of subtle direct touch from their fingers. More specifically, a user touches the screen, then receives an instruction message, and the action is interpreted by the computer, which then parlayes that into actual visible action. While this technology was previously reserved for high-tech, industrial uses, more manufacturers have begun producing touch screens that are suitable for use in consumer electronics such as laptops and cell phones. However, touch screens face a number of difficulties when it comes to use outside of the laboratory.
Touchscreens used as touch panel devices for consumer electronics need a very sturdy and robust back befitting the heavy duty use they put on them. Fortunately, manufacturers of kiosks and kiosk equipment have come up with several solutions to this problem, all of which boast different degrees of durability. However, not all of these solutions are alike: some rely on plastic and/or glass, while others use metal. In addition, some of the newer generation touch screens use liquid crystal displays, making them much more durable than older generations of touchscreen displays.
Touch displays that rely on LCD or LED backlighting technology use the principle of resistive or Capacitive touch, whereby a finger contacts the surface of the display in a specific, localized area. With this type of touch, the finger is essentially “testing” the liquid crystal display by gently pressing down on it. The results of such pressure are often an accurate representation of the position of the finger on the screen – where it overlaps, presses in, or frees up; some displays use capacitance as a means of measurement, but uses the term’capacitance’to refer to the effects of a finger pressing on the display, rather than capacitance itself. Using liquid crystals and capacitance as a means of backlighting the touch screen is ideal for pointing, browsing, and working on documents – the faster and more precise the response time, the better the user will find his or her performance.
A second type of touch monitor displays the finger image on the surface of a semi-transparent substrate, usually a transparent sheet placed between two light panels. The semi-transparent sheet usually has a slight tint to it, reflecting the finger image slightly allowing for a more precise tracking of finger motion. However, since the finger tracking is still done by light, this form of monitor is not entirely accurate. As a result, it is also suitable for applications where there is often movement of the hands, such as medical or law enforcement applications.
Capacitive touch screen monitors, meanwhile, use the same principle of resistive or Capacitive touch as LCD or LED backlighting monitors use – the difference being that instead of the light being emitted by the liquid crystals and capacitance, the light is emitted by an electrical charge. While these types of monitors are generally more expensive than resistive monitors, they are generally used in industrial applications where precise timing and high luminosity is a must. Capacitive monitors work by generating very high levels of light from an electrical charge that passes through a sensitive layer. When the finger moves near the monitor, the electrical charge discharges to the finger, causing the light to be emitted. Because the finger is so close to the screen, the light emitted is very precise – it is much more similar to human eyes than LCD monitors. Because of the accuracy of capacitive monitors, this form of monitor is used for manufacturing purposes such as manufacturing bar code equipment.
Because of the wide range of touch screen monitors available on the market today, they are often bundled with other computer hardware. Portable monitors are popular because they are easy to transport and can easily be moved from one workstation to another. They are useful in military applications as well, since portable monitors enable command of soldiers from a distance, even though they may be several thousand feet away.