Interesting Facts About Touch Screens: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

We’re big fans of touch screen technology, so we’ve come up with a list of interesting facts about touch screens.

Touch screen technology has well and truly taken hold. Most of us use touch screens on a daily basis – but how much do we know about them?

These five interesting facts about touch screens should help unravel the mystery behind the phenomenon…

The first touch screen was created in 1965

E.A. Johnson developed the first finger-controlled touch screen at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, UK.

Johnson’s original device featured a capacitive touch screen (more on that later…) and was only able to process a single touch at a time.

The invention was adopted by UK air traffic controllers, and remained in use until the late 1990s.

Some touch screens use the human finger as an electrical conductor

A capacitive touch screen consists of an insulator, like glass, coated with a transparent conductor such as indium tin oxide.

The human body is also an electrical conductor, so when a finger comes into contact with the screen, it completes the circuit and creates a voltage drop at that point. Software then processes the location of the voltage drop, and orders the resultant action.

Multi-touch technology was developed in the 1980s

The first human-controlled multi-touch device, invented at the University of Toronto in 1982, used a camera to detect ‘black spots’ on a frosted glass panel.

The first transparent multi-touch screen overlay was developed by Bell Labs in 1984. The screen featured a transparent capacitive array of touch sensors overlaid on a cathode ray tube, and allowed users to manipulate graphical objects with their fingers.

This discovery was the precursor to the development of the multi-touch technology we rely on so heavily in smartphones and tablets today.

Touch screen mobile phones were launched in the 1990s

In 1993, IBM and BellSouth launched the Simon Personal Communicator. This was one of the first mobile phones to feature touch screen technology.

The Simon had an email and calendar application, paging capabilities, an address book, an appointment schedule and a pen-based sketchpad, and used a resistive touch screen with a stylus.

A few competitors came out in the early 1990s, but most touch screen devices at the time were more like PDAs (personal digital assistants) than phones.

The launch of the iPhone in 2007 caused a touch screen revolution – its entirely touch-based interface was the most innovative use of touch screen technology to date.

It’s now possible to turn any surface into a touch screen

Nowadays, there are many widely available devices that can turn any surface into a touch screen – from walls and desks to human skin.

For example, Sony has just launched a projector that can turn an ordinary surface into a touch screen. The projector has all the functionality of a tablet, and can act as a ‘digital pinboard’ to gather information and doodle on.

Interesting facts about touch screens: a summary

We hope you’ve enjoyed our interesting facts about touch screens.

With touch screen technology advancing at an amazing pace, it seems like all of our wildest sci-fi touch screen fantasies could soon come true. We’re looking forward to seeing what comes next…

We provide innovative, reliable and high-quality touch screen kiosk solutions for any industry. Browse our range or get in touch to find out more.