Today the most telling characteristic of something considered to be new or “cutting edge” is the multi-touch screen. Just think of it: it was the biggest selling point of Apple’s iPhone and now is the major draw of other smartphones, such as Google’s Droid phone for Verizon. This feature makes phones aesthetically appealing, cool, and super useful, but multi-touch screens themselves are cutting edge in their own right, and according to many tech industry insiders, their abilities have the power to shape the future.
The problem? The screens have been much slower in entering the electronics marketplace than consumers had originally hoped. Many of them want all of their electronic gadgets to have multi-touch screens like their phones, but the industry has been quite slow in developing them for anything outside of smartphones. Let’s find out how multi-touch screen technology works, how it will shape the future, and what products consumers can expect to feature multi-touch screen technology.
Before we move on any further, it’s important to understand that multi-touch screens are actually just an enhancement of touchscreen technology, which enables users to perform multiple tasks by using their fingers to input information onto an electronic visual display. In turn, the touch of their fingers on the screen sends complex commands to the device. Multi-touch screens have vastly outgrown the two-finger commands capable of being made with touchscreens, but the technology hasn’t really trickled down to the masses.
Multi-touch hardware comes in two forms: resistive and capacitive. Resistive screens, like the ones utilized in tablet PCs and older mobile phones, have technically been around in some capacity since mid-1980. Capacitive screens, on the other hand, are new and different; they feature a thin, conductive layer that senses finger movement.
The term “multi-touch” was actually trademarked by Apple because of the development of their iPhone and subsequent devices, which were the first to feature this new advanced version of touchscreen technology. As mentioned previously, small-scale touch devices, such as cell phones, have become quite commonplace, with the amount of touchscreen phones expected to increase from 200,000 first shipped in 2006 to an estimated 21 million in 2012. As developers continue exploring the capabilities of this technology, more customizable multi-touch and gesture-based solutions are beginning to emerge, with some interfaces capable of registering multiple touchpoints and/or gestures.
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