How Touch Screen Works And Types

crop woman using smartphone and laptop during work in office
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Have we wondered why smartphones dominate as technology and are very prolific in our lives or how the touch screen works?

Besides, the value of smartphones can’t be compared to the way people care for their car keys, house keys, and some other belongings though most of these can be more expensive.

Touchscreen technology has been in existence for many years and can be seen in phones, laptops, stores, cars etc…

Starting from the old Nokia, Samsung, and some other button-enabled phones which had small screens and some were made of plastic buttons. Gone are the days when this phone was a hit in the market.

Modern smartphones advanced the touch screen technology and have won the competition over old button phones. Therefore bringing in different functions of technology into a single device.


  • Capacitive Touch Screen
  • OLED Display
  • Toughened Glass
  • Infrared Touch Screen
  • Surface Acoustical Wave
  • Resistive Touch Screens

There are several technologies in the touch screen display, and a lot of changes and differences can be easily noticed when using the modern smartphone for the first time.

Using an intelligent touchscreen device which tends to be smoother to scroll through and user-friendly.

Touchscreen technology can be found In stores, ATMs, Banks, elevators, airplanes, supermarkets, smartphones.

Some smartphones and computers are responsive to many different touches, as a result, sending a precise electrical signal from specific locations on the screen.

I am going to explain some types of touchscreen displays listed above but not all. The touch screen works with…

1. Resistive touchscreen

The most used type of touchscreen technology is the resistive touch screen. In this technology, we have to physically push and bend the screen to make it work. Bending doesn’t mean folding your screen.

Layers of the touch screen are two and they are so thin Resistive touch screens are made of two separate thin layers, the top layer (the one we touch) which is made from a flexible transparent material such as polyethylene.

This polyethylene is a plastic used to make soda bottles and the bottom layer is made of something more rigid but it is glass.

To make the screen work, both of these layers are thinly coated with some sort of metal compound that conducts electricity. Metals like indium tin oxide which is commonly used because it is transparent and copper.

These layers are also separated by tiny insulating dark scar spacers that do not conduct electricity. They keep the screens apart to make sure there aren’t any false touch signals.

After the screen is on, a small voltage is applied across the screen both in the horizontal and vertical direction. As soon as you push down on the flexible screen with anything like your finger or stylus, it connects the two layers.

This changes the voltage, and a small processor connected to the screen can calculate exactly where you pressed in x and y coordinates. These resistive touch screens are pretty affordable and durable.

They are used mostly in factories, restaurants, hospitals, and for things like credit card readers, and grocery stores. Besides, it can be a little frustrating if you don’t push hard enough. They normally can’t understand multiple touches at the same time, though it can detect a two-finger zoom function and more complex tasks like three-finger screenshot action.

2. Capacitive Touch Screens

These days most smartphones rely on a capacitive touch screen, your finger becomes a key part of the electronic device.

Image result for capacitive touch screen


There are different kinds of capacitive touch screens, and they can vary from device to device. The human body has a natural capacitance which means our bodies can conduct electric current and can store electric charge.

When your finger touches the screen, the charge in the screen is run at the point, distorting the electrostatic field. Electricity does not flow through your finger.

The electrostatic field feels the effects of your electric charge and redistributes itself accordingly, even really small changes are detected by the processor.

Capacitive touch screens are super accurate in that they can process multiple touches at a time but they won’t work if you have gloves on because the cloth isn’t conductive.

Unless your glove has those special fingertips with needle fibers inside, then it will function. Thus something like sweat can affect how electricity is conducted across the screen because it is full of salts.

It’s all about the materials that can affect the electrostatic field generated inside your screen. However, whenever you’re texting on a smartphone or scrolling through your tablet just remember you are part of the electronics that made it work.

3. Infrared

This is mostly used in outdoor applications that don’t rely on a conductor like bare hands to activate the touchscreen. It uses an array of x and y-axis.

4. OLED display

This stands for, Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is an advanced display technology made from thin films of light-emitting organic materials.

This technology enhances transparency in our viewing on touchscreen devices like TVs, phones, and others. Most of our phones are made with LCD (liquid crystal display) but OLED has more advances over it.

This technology helps to enhance the viewing experience of any touchscreen device. It shows the real colors and brightness of an object which is being displayed on a TV, smartphone, and also stores.

Many companies hence have implemented this technology in the making of smartphones, watches, games, AR/VR games, and TVs.

However, OLED technology can be used in the making of foldable devices like phones and TVs.

5. Toughened glass

Now, one of the features of a good working touch screen is a toughened glass. Old phones have plastic glass which can easily be folded.

On the top of the screen is a chemically toughened glass, that helps in preventing the phone screen from breaking easily. This glass is five times different in strength than other glasses we see.

It is made of a heated potassium nitrate of about 400°C. This causes the sodium atoms to migrate out and much larger potassium atoms to come in.

Due to the large size of the potassium atoms, they exert more pressure on the surface of the glass because of its compressed nature inside the glass.


You may also like to read the top 10 trending technologies, Face ID In Smartphones.

Frequently Asked Questions About Touchscreen

What are the different types of touch screens?

As such, there are 4 touch panel types in regular use – Resistive, Optical Imaging, Projected Capacitive, and Infrared. Below, we’ll dig into their specifics, which include their advantages, disadvantages, and real-life product applications.

How does a touch screen works?

Touchscreens work using electricity. The screen is made of glass, an insulating material – it cannot carry an electric current. The surface of the screen is therefore coated with a thin layer of an electrically conducting material such as indium tin oxide. This is chosen because it is transparent.

What are the 5 uses of touch screen?

Touchscreens are the most common means of input in personal digital assistants (PDAs). Other applications include digital jukeboxes, computerized gaming, student registration systems, multimedia software, financial and scientific applications and more.