The Types of Touch Screen to Look Out For in Various Products

Touch screens are becoming a more common feature in a lot of products. This includes smart products that we talk about on this website, but what are the types of touch screen and which one is right for you?

They are found in products right from your smartphone to the smart thermostat on your wall to regulate your home temperature.

This can affect the price of the product you are looking at. Not forgetting to mention that it will impact the user experience that you can look forward to.

Most manufacturers will have the type of touch screen in the specifications section on their website or brochure.

Let us begin with the different types of touch screens. Of course there are many, but here are the most common types.

Types of touch screens

Here is a list of the most common types of touch screens and how they work.

Resistive

illustration of how a resistive touch screen works

These types of touch screen have two sheets that contain a very fine conductive grid of material running through it. One sheet has a vertical set of conductors, and the other has a horizontal set.

In between the two sheets, you have a thin plastic sheet that contains a whole lot of fine holes.

When a point of pressure is applied to the top sheet, it simply presses through a tine hole in the center sheet, allowing one of the small grids to touch one of the conductor grids on the bottom sheet.

These types of touch screens are the cheapest to produce and generally don’t work as reliably as the other kinds. They also have a shorter life span due to the wear that occurs on them.

Once they become slightly worn, it is difficult to maintain proper reliability of touch. We find this to be especially true in areas that get touched a lot due to the user interface design of the commonly used software applications.

This can cause users to get frustrated and even cause them to despise that particular product, simply from that.

Bad wearing of the plastic surface over time also causes a poorer image that can get viewed on the screen due to the collection of small scratches on the surface.

Capacitive

A capacitive touch screen is my personal preference. They say that an infrared type of panel is superior in terms of reliability, however, after spending many years working for a vending equipment company, I’d argue that the capacitive screen reigns supreme.

The only drawback I have found is that you need a special stylus in order for it to work.

It simply works by picking up distortions the screen’s electrostatic field from the electrical conductivity properties of the human body, more specifically your finger.

These kinds of touch screens are more on the expensive side, but in my opinion deliver the best use experience.

There are quite a few different types of capacitive touch screens, which can be another article in itself. The commonly used capacitive type is a PCAP (Projected Capacitance) which comes in two varieties: Mutual Capacitance and Self-Capacitance.

Infrared

These touch screens are often described as being the most reliable on the market. In my experience, this is mostly true, but I have experienced an issue with them.

The way they work is simple. They usually are designed with a bezel that is slightly raised above the level of the touch screen glass.

Inside the raised bezel, a line of infrared LED’s and infrared receivers are placed that they can cross reference each other across the surface of the screen’s glass.

When you finger, or any other object breaks the path of infrared light, a touch point is activated from it.

I found that small amounts of debris inside the touch screen some infrared light to be obstructed. This caused some intermittent problems and again, some users to experience frustration.

If the internal obstructions are more severe, you can get areas on the touch screen where you don’t get any touch response at all.

Conclusion on the types of touch screens

Those are the three most commonly used touch screens in products on the market today. Of course, there are more kinds, but these are much more common.

I hope this has made you aware of the pros and cons of each type, and which one your would find the best for your situation.