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Team Members

Patricia Gillett, Shahryar Vasseghi, Jin Wook Lee

Project Statement

Touchscreen is becoming a more common part of our daily lives. Even though it is on the higher end of pricing, it is worth it to spend the extra money on the user friendly technology.

History of Touchscreen

The first touch sensor was developed by doctor Sam Hurst at the University of Kentucky in 1971. Patented by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation under the name the "Elograph" it paved the way to the touch screen technology we know today. With his novel invention Doctor Sam Hurst came to establish the company "Elographics" and in 1974 released the first touchscreen incorporating a transparent surface. In 1977 Elographics patented the most popular and widely used touch screen technology; five-wire resistance technology and on February 12th 1994 officially changed its name to Elo TouchSystems.

What is Touch Screen technology? How it works

Generally a touchscreen is any input system whereby the user interacts with the device through direct contact on the screen as opposed to external input devices such as a mouse or a keyboard. Although the technologies of touch screen have evolved and varied over the years since its first invention the founding principles generally have remained the same. All touchscreen technology generally consists of three main parts; the touch sensor, controller and software driver. The touch sensor is generally a clear glass panel with a touch responsive surface. It is places directly over the screen so that the responsive area covers the viewable area of the video screen. The different Touch Screen technologies use different methods to detect touch input however. The sensor generally conveys and electrical current or signal and touching the screen causes a change in this current or signal. The signal or voltage change is then used to determine the location of the touch on the screen.

The controller is a PC card that connects the touchscreen and the PC. It takes the voltage change from the touch screen and translates it into information that the operating system can understand. It is generally installed inside the monitor for integrated monitors or housed in a plastic case for external touch add-ons and overlays. It determines the suitable type of interface/connection for your device.

The software driver allows the touch screen and interactive device to work together. It receives the touch event information from the controller and interprets it for the operating system of the given device. Most touch screen drivers for Personal Computers in use today closely emulate the computer mouse, allowing the interface compatibility with most existing software, allowing new programs to be developed without the need for Touch Screen specific programming and allowing intuitive transfer for persons used to the classic single-click, double-click functions of an everyday mouse. More sophisticated, function specific devices such as client terminals, dvd players and specialized computer systems either don't use software drivers or have their own built-in Touch Screen driver.

Types of Touch Screens

The methods and technology through which a user's physical contact with the screen is interpreted and processed have varied and grown in sophistication since the invention of five-wire resistance technology in 1977, each bringing new benefits and disadvantages.

All varieties of touch screen technology eliminate the need for other external methods of data input and through their engineering some are predisposed to better uses.


A resistance touch screen surface is composed of layers of conductive material. Contact made to the screen forces the layers together at a point, creating a voltage change which is in turn triangulated by software. If the screen is indented the function of the touch screen will be impaired but it is otherwise impervious to dust and humidity.

Surface Acoustic Wave

Surface Acoustic Waves generate ultrasound that is directed at the screen panel. Contact with the screen absorbs some of the sound waves and the imbalance is detected and interpreted. Elements and residue on the screen impair the function of the ultrasound making it somewhat less reliable and applicable to public use.


Capacitive touch screens continuously channel an electric charge. When a human appendage makes contact the innate charge of the body acts on the charge of the scree, creating a signal which is interpreted by the machine in question. Capacitive touch screens must have contact with a biological or charged surface to work, so a gloved hand or a stylus would be ineffective.


Natural instinct to touch.


The technology of touch screen, when first introduced, was an exotic and expensive computer solution for business and individuals. Since then, the benefits of touch screen have begun to drastically outweigh the costs. It is now no longer so expensive and is a sign of technological advancement in businesses. Touch screen technology has the strong benefit of ease of use. The concept of reaching out to touch something is natural and basic. It does not involve the use of any external inputs that can be complicated for the new or inexperienced user. People are more likely to explore information on a touch screen because visual commands are much easier to use than a list of keyboard inputs. The ease of input makes this technology also quick so it can assist businesses with better customer service.

The next paragraphs will cover the various advantages and disadvantages of touch screen applications and how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Touch Technology in Our World Today


Today’s society is seeing the increasing popularity of the touch screen. Despite the fact that it is typically more expensive than other directory or computer solutions, more and more businesses and individuals are integrating them into their daily lives. The early invention of touch screen saw extremely high prices for the technology. But nowadays, the price to pay to have the modern, user friendly technology has substantially dropped. Touch screen technology is more affordable than before and therefore more mainstream. It is predicted that by next year 7% of all phones will have touch screens and that the amount of phones with touch screen is expected to triple from 120 million to 362 million by 2010. As well as in phones, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the use of touch technology in directory assistance, particularly in GPS.


The iPhone, released in 2007.

Phones with touch screen haven’t been around for very long with one of the first, the LG Prada only released in early 2007. Despite the release of the LG Prada and Samsung Armani, The touch screen phone was hidden in the background due to the hefty price tag, until Apple released the iPhone on June 29, 2007. This phone completely refocused the publics’ attention on touch screen. When the iPhone was released, the other phone companies also released their own touch screen versions of cell phones to compete with the iPhone.

There are many advantages to having a touch screen phone. The phone is more aesthetically pleasing due to the lack of silver buttons; it has a cleaner look. There is different ways of data manipulation in the case of the iPhone such as being able to zoom in by “pinching”. Messaging is much easier and is just as responsive as other phones without touch screen. Some may consider the large size a disadvantage, but the large size has the advantage of making it easier to message with larger keys and easier to read those messages with the larger screen.

One disadvantage to having a touch screen phone is that the modern technology tends to be more expensive. Another is that half of touch screen phones require the use of a pen like object called a stylus. Some icons on the screen are so small that they require a precision point touch to access. Lastly, the touch screen phones use a lot more energy than do other phones so you will end up charging your battery more often.

Tablet PC by HP Compaq

Tablet PC

The idea of using pen in computer has been around since 1980s due to the handwriting recognition, which was seen as one of the future technologies. In 1991 pen computing was at its peak, however they were not sold well, therefore in 1995 it was dead in market. In 2002 Microsoft reintroduced pen computers as Tablet PC. Since then it became a popular product. There are a number of advantages on using a Tablet PC. First of all is the handwriting recognition. It's much easier to input different symbols, drawings, diagrams into pc when compared to using keyboard and mouse. Also depending on size you can replace your pen, pencil, notebooks... etc, save them all in a digital form. Lastly handwriting are integrated to many programs, there's no hassle to install programs for compatibility. Some of the disadvantages are the cost. Even though the price of Tablet PC dropped you can expect to spend up to 1000 dollar just because its a tablet PC. Also screen damage does possess some risk. However its clear that in future Tablet PCs will dominate the market. Also although most people think Tablet PC as laptop with touchscreen touch screen monitors do exist as an alternative to laptop.

GPS Devices

GPS, known as global positioning system is a navigation system based on satellites. Like most other technologies it started as military use. But when Korean Airline Flight 007 was shot down after it went to soviet territory it was then decided to allow civilians use the GPS technology. Since then it was gone a long way for GPS devices to know what is known today. Incorporating touch screen technology in GPS devices has many benefits, one of them being Safety. Touch screen technology allows each interaction and it is very important especially when you're driving. Pressing buttons while trying to drive is just too dangerous, it's just safer to press screen to see where you're going. Also eliminating the buttons gives room for bigger screen, another important aspect as well. Lastly touch screen allows for various interaction, like the ones used in iphones, where you can zoom in by pinching. In conclusion by incorporating touch screen technology driving becomes more enjoyable and safer.

Information Kiosks

An information kiosk is an interactive display businesses can use for customer assistance. These information kiosks come in various forms, such as mall directories and ticket purchase stands at movie theatres. In recent years we are seeing the change over to touch screen devices. Touch screen information kiosks give businesses an inmage of being a technological leader. Touch screens create a more interactive display for clients and consumers. It is more user friendly because people with little to no computer skills can use them easily and at their own pace. In addition, when it comes to mall directories, you can tell your customer far more with a touch screen interactive display than with just a map. It can provide directions, employment opportunities, upcoming events, as well as store hours. Also the touch screen takes away questions from customer service representatives about simple things like directions to stores and washrooms, that way the customer service representatives are more available to answer more indepth questions. They are more environment friendly due to the fact that they cut down on the amount of paper used.

Infokiosktouchscreen.jpgTouchscreendirectory.jpg Touch screen.jpg


Touch screen is becoming a more and more accessible technology today, both for public and private use. As the technology has been around for some time it has had the opportunity to mature and develop, growing in variety and reliability. That is why today we see it in our lives more often, replacing older, more fragile methods of data input. Touch Screen technology can be accredited to many things, from enriching our customer service experience to enabling the production of newer more fashionable electronic accessories. Touch screen technology as a whole holds a very promising future and although the current prices for most touch screen enabled hardware is somewhat higher, in the future, undoubtedly within our generation, touch screen technology will be a viable alternative in all things electronic. Touchscreen is the future.