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Touch Screens

Touch screen interfaces have been integrated in every vertical market imaginable: customer service, military, naval and aeronautics industries, telecommunications, financial, transportation, healthcare, gaming, and much more. A small investment in touch screen integration can have big results. An enriched interface application provides intuitive user-to-touchscreen interaction, increases productivity, revenue, and even trust in a company. There are various touch screen technologies on the market and it is important to be educated on the different types available. The following information is provided to help you become familiar with them; AGDisplays is always available to answer any questions you may have. We are here to help you utilize your panel's maximum capabilities.

What is a touch panel?

A touch panel is an interactive electronic display that is capable of detecting the location of a touch within an active display area. Depending on the technology, touch screens are capable of detecting touches made by a finger or hand, or other passive objects such as a stylus or a pen. A touch screen typically has three components: a touch sensor, a controller, and a software driver. There are different touch technologies available; each vary in characteristics. Read below about the different technologies or call AGDisplays to understand which touch screen fits best with your project or design.

Touch Screen Types

  • Resistive
  • Surface Capacitive
  • Projected Capacitive
  • Surface Acoustic Wave
  • Infrared

Resistive Touch Screens

This is the most common touch screen on the market. Resistive touch screens are less versatile than capacitive touch screens. This technology has its own unique characteristics, depending on your application. A resistive touch screen is made up of several layers. Two of these layers are electrically conductive and are separated by a narrow gap. When initiating a point of contact with a resistive touch screen, the stylus/finger creates pressure and contact between the resistive circuit layers, allowing for a complete circuit. The point of contact acts as a pair of voltage dividers with connected outputs, which causes a change in electrical current and the panel can then identify the location of the touch.

Surface Capacitive Touch Screens

Surface capacitive technology is simple, giving the customer durability and lower cost. In this build, sensors in the four corners of the display detect capacitive changes made by a touch. A touch can only be detected when it is made with a conductive object such as a finger or hand. The coordinates of the position at which the finger touches the screen are identified by measuring the resulting changes in electrostatic capacity at the four corners of the panel. A protective coating on top of the conductive layer protects the touch screen from scratches and abrasions, as well as permits increased transmissivity. Surface capacitive touch screens have no moving parts and therefore considered a moderately durable build.

Projected Capacitive (PCAP) Touch Screens

Projected Capacitive, or PCAP, touch screen technology features important advantages: high durability, superior optical clarity, and unlimited multi-touch capabilities. The PCAP is embedded behind glass for protection, allowing increased durability without compromising the integrity of the technology. These touch screens provide precise positional accuracy while also detecting multiple touches at one time. PCAP touch screens allow only finger-touch operation.

Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)

SAW technology incorporates ultrasonic waves that pass over the touch screen and when touched, registers the position of the touch through wave absorption. The advantage of this touch technology is that it can be activated through a finger-touch, a gloved hand, or a soft-tip stylus. The technology uses clear glass, which allows for extra durability and an extended lifetime. This application is versatile; it is relatively easy to use this technology in a large size touch screen application.


Infrared technology relies on light-beam interruption technology to detect touch points on the touch screen. The display is surrounded by a frame which uses a light source (LED) on one side and light detectors on the other to create an optical grid across the screen. A touch is detected when an object touches the screen and the invisible light beam is interrupted. The advantages with this technology are touch screen precision, touch screen is sensitive to finger-touch or glove-touch, and is resistant to electrostatic and magnetic noise.