Touch screen devices are becoming ever more popular as the technology proves itself reliable and smart. With a large number of mobile devices, including phones and tablet PCs, using touch screens almost exclusively, the modern computer or technology user is now as familiar with touching a screen to control information, as he is with using a keyboard.
The touch screen is capable of sensing the location and pressure of a hand, finger or designated object – normally a plastic stylus or a pointer.
The major advantage of touch screens is that the user is able to interact directly with the display on the screen. Where an image is displayed, this means the user may interact with it in a much more intelligent and intuitive way than if he or she was forced to use a mouse or keyboard to control a cursor.
For example, when a map is displayed on a touch screen, the user may point to an area on the grid, which then enlarges. Or, using the motion of two fingers (normally the finger and the thumb) – first pinched together and then spread apart – the user can enlarge a specific area of a map, rotate it: in fact control it as though he or she was actually holding the topography in his or her hand.
The medical industry has embraced touch screens for this reason. Medical equipment with touch screen monitors allows the technician or consultant to point out and interact with specific areas in the display.
The history of the touch screen is a long one, surprisingly so perhaps for the lay reader: as early as 1965, a paper appeared positing the theoretical potentials of using capacitance to create an electronic screen that would allow direct interaction with the human finger or hand. In the first instance of commercially available touch screens, exceedingly high end musical sampling and editing equipment began to use light pen technology to allow the musician in question to control and create samples. In the early 80s, HP released what is generally believed to be the world’s first touch screen computer; at around the same time as General Motors commissioned a study to see if the satellite functions in their vehicles (so anything not directly related to starting and stopping the engine, shifting gears, steering or using the brakes) could be controlled using touch screens.
The modern touch screen may be constructed in a number of different ways – the actual method of construction being ultimately defined by the size of the device, its anticipated cost and of course the requirement it has for a specific type of user experience. The more sensitive and controllable the screen needs to be, the more intensive the creation process and the more expensive the final product.
In general terms touch screens allow the user to use a fingernail as a stylus; and to tap with finger pads in the same way you do when using a keyboard. To a degree the extent to which the data on screen is controllable is a function of the size of the screen.
In general terms touch screens allow the user to use a fingernail as a stylus; and to tap with finger pads in the same way you do when using a keyboard.