tufailA touchscreen, also known as “surface” computing, is a virtual display complete with a sensitive screen that recognizes touch by the finger or hand. Touchscreens are able to complete commands based on the position of a touch. Touchscreen technology took off after the release of the iPhone in July 2008.      

In the late 1960s, research in touchscreen technology  began. Samuel Hurst first developed the touch sensor in 1971. In 1972, an assisted learning center came out as a part of the Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations (PLATO) project, and touchscreen technology was introduced; this was the first computer-assisted instruction system. The HP-150, the first touchscreen computer, reached stores in 1983.

There are three types of touchscreen systems. The first is a resistive system, based on using two metallic layers. When the screen is pressed, a closed circuit is formed. The computer determines whether a touch was made and reacts accordingly. The resistive system is the most widely used system in touchscreen technology due to its simple structure and lower production cost.

The capacitive system uses a “charged” screen: When a user applies pressure to the screen, a charge is transmitted to his body. The transmission of this charge allows the computer to recognize the touch and compute the command.

The surface acoustic wave system uses sound waves to determine whether the screen has been touched. Transducers, reflectors and sensors are used in the surface acoustic wave system. The transducers determine whether or not a wave was disturbed to “figure

Touchscreens are fast and easy to use, as there’s no text interface: All the user has to do is point at what he wants. Without a mouse and keyboard, touchpads are smaller and more compact. Today’s touchscreens are protected from electrical surges and changes in temperature. Touchscreens are easy to clean because of their slick, smooth surface.

With a touchscreen, it’s nearly impossible to tell where the keys are, so you have to look at the screen to make a command. Pressing a button on a touchscreen is a lot different from pressing a regular button on an electronic device: When a user pushes a regular button, she knows she’s pressed it. With a touchscreen, it’s hard to tell whether or not the button was pressed (unless the action is accompanied by a sound). Positioning is not always precise on a touchscreen; often, fingers are too large and may press more than one button at a time. Touchscreens often get dirty due to fingerprints, so they require constant cleaning.

Touchscreen technology has been evolving since its introduction in the late 1960s. Today, touchscreen technology can be found virtually everywhere in America, including in ATMs, cellular phones , PDAs, retail and grocery stores, and airports.


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