How does a touchsreen work?


Quick Answer

A touch screen display works through contact by a finger or a stylus that completes a circuit through either electrical resistance or capacitance. Resistive touch screens require the user to press the screen to complete a circuit. Capacitive touch screens carry a constant electrical charge that locates touches to perform actions.

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Full Answer

When a smartphone user presses his finger to a touch screen, very small amounts of electrical current flow. With resistive touch screens, the pressure of the touch compresses specialized layers of the screen to generate current in order to activate a menu option or button. However, because the human body is a conductor of electricity, capacitive touch screens work when the user's bioelectricity interrupts the flow of electrons across the screen. This allows the screen to pinpoint the location of the touch and generate output.

Because they’re durable and moisture resistant, resistive touch screens are often used in mall kiosks, hospitals and restaurants. Resistive touch screens can also receive input from many different devices and are economical. Because they are more sensitive, most capacitive touch screens can respond to either a touch or to a charged stylus. The introduction of glass screens has made the displays lighter, more durable and even more sensitive.

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