In our modern world, we see touch screens everywhere. According to a Pew Research survey that was conducted in November 2016, 77% of Americans own a smartphone and 51% own a tablet.
The touchscreen has now been around us for a decade. It can’t be more popular. But where did they come from? How did they become so widespread? And how many more changes should we expect?
All of it has been explained below:
The 1960s to 70s: Invention
In 1965 by Eric A. Johnson who worked at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, England, the first touchscreen was invented
He wrote an article “Touch display—a novel input/output device for computers” that describes his work and features a diagram of the design. The invention was known as a capacitive touchscreen, which used an insulator, in this case there was glass coated with a transparent conductor, like indium tin oxide. Johnson patented his design in 1966, and improved it in 1968, and wrote another article about it. It was adopted by British air traffic controllers and was used in the 1990s.
Another design came in the 1970s, known as ‘resistive touchscreen’. American inventor Dr. G. Samuel Hurst discovered this design while studying atomic physics with a Van de Graaff generator, a machine that accumulates and releases electric charge. He along with his two colleagues used electrically conductive paper to read the coordinates of their analysis, completing their experiments in a few hours instead of days.
The 1990s: Popular Touchscreens
As the computers continued to shrink, a more common trend was being established; handheld devices. Apple released the MessagePad, also called the Newton, in 1993 as a revolutionary new tool.
These used a touchscreen that was made for a stylus, and boasted a much-anticipated feature: handwriting recognition. However, it wasn’t successful because of the expensive price. Then IBM released the first cellphone with a touchscreen, the Simon Personal Communicator. It is now recognized as the first true smartphone with a calendar, address book, and notepad.
The 2000s: Pre-Smartphone Touchscreens in Daily Life
Touch screens really started to enter the public eye in this decade.
Big tech companies continued to see how touchscreens could be used in new and beneficial ways. Nintendo released the first successful video game in 2004 with touch input. Microsoft began to develop its own devices as well. The Microsoft Surface was a computer, the size of a table with a flat touchscreen display on top. Later this design came in ATMs, fitness machines, gas pumps, and checkout counters, as it grew in popularity.
Apple Popularized the Touchscreen in Consumer Electronics
In 2007, the original iPhone was released. It revolutionized the phone industry. It had a touchscreen instead of a physical dialing pad. The iPhone included a brand-new feature for the consumer market: multi-touch, with a capacitive touchscreen. The multi-touch capabilities of the new smartphone had more functions than those found in single-touch devices. This is the reason why Apple decided to use the more expensive capacitive screen. However, it works with the electrical charge of human skin and cannot be used with a glove or a normal stylus.
Today: Touchscreen Explosion
Another revolution in the market for touchscreen devices; Apple iPad was released in 2010. However, the first truly mainstream tablet was worked on before the iPhone. Just like the iPhone, the iPad created a wave of tablets from competitors. This made a revolution in the marketplace.
Touchscreens for Businesses
More and more businesses are using them for connecting with customers, now that touchscreens are in the public consciousness.
Another great promotional tool for businesses is a large touchscreen repair stand. These kiosks have a large area that allows customers to browse through products, menu items, maps, and more. These are used in malls, restaurants, etc. The stands support up to ten points of contact and wireless connectivity. This allows companies to feature almost anything they want.
Compared to the other computer devices, touchscreens are unique as they can handle both input and output — interpreting the user’s actions and featuring a display simultaneously. They let the user interact directly with what is on the screen, unlike a mouse in a computer that moves a cursor. Theoretically speaking, this is a faster design because of every icon app available in front of your eyes. Touchscreens have a number of features that increase their functionality.
- Pressure sensitivity
- Gesture recognition
- Fingerprint resistance
These are all types of touchscreens that brought a revolution in the marketplace.