There was a time when touch technology was something you might only see on an episode of Star Trek. Today, the ability to simply touch to complete actions is often taken for granted since touch screen display technology is widely used on phones and in homes, cars, and businesses. Of course, it took several decades to perfect the technology that’s so common today.
Capacitive Touch Screen Panels
The technology behind touch devices dates back to the 1940s. However, it wasn’t until 1965 that a workable finger-driven touch screen was invented by Eric Johnson. Air traffic controllers in Europe were the first customers to use Johnson’s screens. Today, his invention is referred to as a capacitive touch screen panel. It works by using the human finger as sort of an electrical conductor.
Resistive Touch Screens
Dr. G. Samuel Hurst introduced resistive touch screens to the world in the 1970s. They work by placing pressure on a conductive cover sheet to trigger voltage flow via “X” and “Y” wires. Today, pressure-activated screens are mostly used in factories, restaurants, hospitals, and similar settings. Such screens are no longer widely used for mobile devices.
Touch Screens in the Classroom
In 1971, PLATO IV became the first computer-assisted system with a touch screen used in classrooms. Today, touch screens are nearly universally used in classrooms by students at all grade levels.
Human-Controlled Multi-Touch Capabilities
What was basically a “touch tablet” was developed by Nimish Mehta of the University of Toronto in the early 1980s. It involved the use of a camera placed behind a frosted-glass panel to detect motions. Also in the 1980s, Myron Krueger developed a system that was capable of reacting to different hand or finger poses. Hewlett-Packard introduced computers with screens that could respond to finger touches, but they had some usability issues.
Touch Screens Become Accessible for Everyone
By the 1990s, touch screens were more accessible thanks to innovations like IBM’s Personal Communicator, considered the first cell phone to feature a touchscreen. It also had email and paging capabilities and included a pen-activated sketch pad. Apple and Palm would soon debut PDAs (personal digital assistants) with touch-activated capabilities.
Touch Technology Today
Multi-touch capacitive technology and gesture-based technology evolved rapidly in the early 2000s. The new millennium has given us touch-activated smartphones, tablets, monitors, and televisions. Gesture-based interfaces also allow users to maneuver animations and images, and pan and zoom with incredible ease and precision. There’s even a computer primarily marketed as a business tool allowing multiple users to touch and use real-world objects.
To see what’s new and trending with touch screen display technology, take a moment to check out what’s available from top manufacturers like GVision. The latest touch screens are responsive and easy to use.