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How touch screens work and what was the first equipment to use this technology

Touch screens are present in all areas of our lives

Many use them routinely and automatically, virtually every hour (or minute, in some cases) that we are awake and in all areas and environments to fulfill the functions of our daily work.

They are touch screens.

They are present in all parts of our homes at all times: since we wake up to turn off the alarm clock, in the kitchen to turn on the stove or microwave, in the room with the TV, computer, electronic book or eternally in the palm of our hands with the ubiquitous smart phone.

Even outside the home, touch screens are being used more and more in stores and businesses for purchases and services, such as at bank ATMs or in electronic fast food restaurants, to pay at the supermarket, operate machinery and even to vote in elections.

Touch screens definitely revolutionized the world of
 and all other related technologies. We literally have the world at the fingertips but, have you wondered how that technology works, how it developed, who invented it?

iPhone was not the first

Although many first saw the touch screen with the launch of Apple's first iPhone, that company did not invent the technology

Although many first saw the touch screen with the launch of Apple's first iPhone, that company did not invent the technology

In January 2007, many in the world eagerly awaited the launch of a new phone that did not have conventional buttons but a flat screen in which the user could slide their fingers to configure and operate the device.

It was about
first iPhone model of the company
 , which caused sensation among experts and, especially, among consumers almost hypnotized by the movement of cones and the functions that can be achieved just by touching the screen.

"All of us were born with the best artifact to signal – our fingers – and
 use them to create the interface with the most revolutionary user from the mouse ", declare at that time
Steve Jobs
 , founder and CEO of Apple.

The electronics company had patented the technology in the mobile device 11.6mm thick, calling it "multitctile".

The impact was such that there are those who believe that Apple was the inventor of the touch screen, but since the early 1960s there are already prototypes of images on the screen that are sensitive to human touch or a stylet.

In 1965, E.A. Johnson, from the research center of the UK Ministry of Defense, Royal Radar Establishment, had already described a "new" data entry and exit device for computers.

Although the tablet, which was manufactured and patented in 1969, could only interpret a touch at a time, it was used in traffic control screens until mid-1990s.

"A little magic"

The first touch screens could only interpret one touch at a time

The first touch screens can only interpret one touch at a time

In a diagram, E.A. Johnson explained that his device worked with a "touch of
capacitance, "which is basically the same type of touch screen that many smartphones use today.

This type of screen used an insulator, such as glass, which is clad in a transparent conductor, such as indium oxide and tin. The "conductive" part is usually the human finger, which acts very well as an electric conductor.

The system had several incarnations throughout the years. First with resistance screens, in which the pressure on an external layer acted on an internal layer to close a circuit that indicated to the computer where the screen was touching.

In 1982, the BBC's technology program "Tomorrow's World" gave an advance of what will be a new way in which we will be interacting with our computers.

Diodes, a finger and an "abracadabra"

Diodes, a finger and an "abracadabra"

At the beginning of the demonstration, the presenter said, with a gesture of anticipation, "Now, a little magic", before sliding the index finger on the screen of a large monitor and writing the letters Q, P and R.

Then he revealed the mystery by pointing out what looked like a row of tiny light bulbs on the vertical edge of the monitor and another row on the horizontal edge. They were photodiodes that threw rays at receivers on opposite edges, creating an invisible infrared grid in front of the screen.

When touching the screen, the finger acted as a switch of the vertical and horizontal rays, giving the computer the precise coordinates of the location of the finger. With a rudimentary program, the machine can be used to select options in a touch menu.

This system that allows the user easy access to computers without the need to use a keyboard was developed until what we have today. Almost any device has its own interactive surface.

The new generations that were born with this technology firmly rooted in their daily lives are so well adapted to it that they may lose other skills such as writing with pencil and paper or even gesturing, to be very important in future developments.

What follows touch technology?

Voice assistants, virtual reality, facial recognition: the future may be a combination of old and new technologies

Voice assistants, virtual reality, facial recognition: the future may be a combination of old and new technologies

When the first iPhone went on the market, there were critics on the part of people with certain physical disabilities who were excluded by the phone design.

Users with limited or blind vision, who depend on touch to interpret the texture and relief variations that the keys can offer, cannot use a smooth screen.

The development of
Voice recognition may have taken part in that weakness of touch screens.

But there are other advances in technology.

There are devices with
facial recognition, also others that can interpret gestures as commands and, if it is still touch dependent, there are tricks to make a smooth screen feel like it has buttons.

There is also the
virtual reality, where not even a physical screen is necessary, only the one projected on the glasses to interact with the movements of the fingers in the air.

Despite all these innovations, it is believed that none dominate on its own in the same way that the keyboard and keyboard did at the time.
mouse The winner, possibly, be a combination of all.


(tagsToTranslate) How touch screens work and what was the first team that used this technology – LA NACION