Industrial touch screens, whether they come in the form of PDAs or control panels, need to be sufficiently rugged to withstand impacts, collisions, dirt, grime, contamination, and grease, not to mention the fact that they often need to be operated by a gloved hand. The technology goes far beyond your average smartphone or tablet, which cracks any time it hits the ground; resistive touch screens can be made to withstand a lot of punishment, extreme conditions, and grit and grime.
Resistive touch screens have been around for decades and they may have first appeared in consumers’ hands in the forms of consumer PDAs like the Palm Pilot; today, they’re typically found in hospitals as part of medical equipment, in industrial, aerospace, and military settings where damage is likely to occur, and in public kiosks where they need to be weatherproof and withstand vandalism. They are manufactured by technology companies like A D Metro that supply OEMs, systems integrators, and resellers serving these industries. They are made of several glass layers; applying pressure with your finger or a stylus causes the top layer to contact the layer beneath it, completing the electric circuit. In addition to considerable durability over multi-touch options, the main advantage of the A D Metro resistive touch screen is affordability, as it’s an economical solution for any equipment line that does not require waterproofing or more extreme protection.
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By contrast, the PCAP touch screen (or projected capacitive) responds to the electrical charge of the human body, which is why you generally can’t operate them with a gloved hand, limiting their use in extreme temperatures or industrial and medical settings. However, they respond to multi-touch operation, which makes a superior option for any light, indoor use, such as entertainment, gaming, interactive signage, PoS terminals, and anything that won’t be exposed to the elements or heavy use. They consist of a surface layer of glass and a sensor layer; between these two layers there are layers of conductive coating that are disrupted by human contact.
While the PCAP option from A D Metro is resistant to vandalism and scratching, only their armored resistive touch screen sensor can be used in applications where the screen will be obscured by grease or contamination, left outside to the elements, experience high traffic in public, or be used in mission critical military equipment. Their use ranges from airplane cockpits to PoS terminals in restaurants where waiters have to operate them despite encrusted ketchup or grease on the screen.
The history of the touch screen goes much further back than Apple’s first smartphone and its applications extend far beyond personal electronics. From their first appearance in pop culture on Star Trek in 1987, they’ve become an everyday part of life and business, playing a crucial role wherever you go, and the technology is diverse. If you’re a manufacturer or reseller of equipment for industry, you’re going to want to find the right supplier who can provide durable and economical solutions for your production line.