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Smartphones need touchscreens for practical reasons, but as the technology has evolved, it’s shaped the way users expect to interact with their computing devices. Touch-based interfaces are even becoming prevalent in desktop environments where traditional displays are giving way to touchscreen monitors.

The Touchscreen Revolution

During a recent presentation at the Emerging Displays conference in Santa Clara, California, industry experts forecast that the market for touchscreen modules would be $32 billion by the end of 2018, about double the market size just six years earlier. Phones and tablets have traditionally accounted for most of the demand, but the enormous growth over the past several years can largely be attributed to laptop and desktop screens ranging from 20 inches to 55 inches and beyond.

A Natural Interface

When Microsoft announced a push toward touch interfaces with Windows 8, there were many detractors in the industry who believed that the appeal was limited to phones and tablets. While touchscreens will likely never eliminate keyboards and mice, many tasks are simply faster on a touchscreen monitor. The experience is intuitive, and many people take to it as easily as flipping pages in a book or using their index finger to scan for a particular line while reading. Interactions such as tap or swipe are direct and immediate and eliminate intermediaries between a user and the content being consumed.

Many Applications

A touchscreen isn’t just appropriate for many applications; it has also proved to be the ideal means for certain activities. Reading a book, for instance, is much more natural with touch controls than with a mouse and keyboard. Plus, you can recline without affecting that control. For artists and engineers, touch controls with either their fingers or styluses have proved to be a much more efficient and creative way to transfer conceptualizations to software that allows for sophisticated manipulation. In the business world, touchscreens are increasingly used for delivering and interacting with presentations.

The Road Forward

Companies like GVision have already experienced a sharp increase in touchscreen monitor purchases and expect that to continue. Technological advances have made these screens cheaper and faster to create. This is causing a snowball effect: prices are dropping, which is increasing demand, which is causing supply to rise and prices to drop further. While the market will almost certainly reach $32 billion by 2019, what’s more relevant to you and other end-users is that more than half of laptops and nearly as many desktop monitors will be touch-based.

Be prepared for big changes on the horizon.