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Touchscreen Technology

How Touchscreens Work
A touchscreen has 3 main components: a touch sensor, a controller, and a software driver. To make a complete touch input system, a touchscreen is combined with a display and a PC or other device.
1. Touchscreen Sensor
This is a glass plate having a touch responsive surface. The sensor is positioned over a display screen, so that the responsive area of the plate covers the maximum viewable area of the video screen. There are a number of touch sensor technologies available in the market today, each using a different approach to detect touch input. The sensor has an electric current or signal passing through it and touching the screen causes a change in the voltage or signal. This voltage or signal change is used to find out the location of the touch to the screen.
2. Controller
The controller used in a touchscreen is a small PC card that interconnects between the touch sensor and the PC. The controller takes data from the touch sensor and converts it into information that PC can understand. For integrated monitors, the controller is usually installed inside the monitor, or is placed in a plastic case for external touch add-ons/overlays. The controller is useful to determine what type of interface/connection you will need on the PC. Integrated touch monitors are provided with an extra cable connection on the back for the touchscreen. Controllers are available by connecting to a Serial/COM port (PC) or to a USB port (PC or Macintosh).
3. Software Driver
The driver is software for the PC system that permits the touchscreen and computer to work together. It tells the operating system of the computer how to interpret the touch event information that is sent from the controller. Today’s touchscreen drivers are a mouse-emulation type driver. This makes touching the screen the same as clicking your mouse at the same location on the screen. This permits the touchscreen to work with existing software and provide new applications to be developed without the need for touchscreen-specific programming. Some devices such as thin client terminals, DVD players, and specialized computer systems either do not use software drivers, or they have their own in-built drivers.
Uses of Touchscreens
Touchscreens are one of the simplest PC interfaces to use, making it the interface of choice for a large number of applications. The following are some of the uses of a touchscreen.
1. Public Information Displays
2. Retail and Restaurant Systems
3. Control and Automation Systems
4. Computer-based Training
5. Assistive Technology