Multi-touch technology is a common feature in many touchscreens. Whether you’re shopping for a tablet, smartphone, human machine inteface (HMI) or any other touchscreen device, it may offer multi-touch. Multi-touch, of course, refers to input involving two or more simultaneous points of contact. Rather than touching a single area of the display interface, you can touch two or more areas at the same time. Below are five common misconceptions about multi-touch technology.

#1) Relatively New

Some people assume that multi-touch technology is a relatively new feature. Multi-touch technology, though, has origins dating back to the 1980s. It was pioneered by the Input Research Group at the University of Toronto. In the early 1980s, the Input Research Group developed the first multi-touch system using a glass panel with a built-in camera. Multi-touch later found its way into consumer touchscreens.

#2) Difficult to Use

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of multi-touch technology, you shouldn’t have trouble using it. Most touchscreens support “familiar” multi-touch commands, such as pinch to zoom. Pinch to zoom means you can zoom in or out of the display by pinching it with two fingers. Pinching the display inward will zoom in, whereas pinching the display outward will zoom out.

#3) Only Works With Fingers

Another common misconception is that multi-touch technology only works with your fingers. You can certainly use your fingers to perform multi-touch commands like pinch to zoom. But don’t let that fool you into thinking multi-touch technology is limited to finger-based commands. Depending on the specific type of touchscreen, you may be able to perform multi-touch commands using a stylus. Resistive touchscreens, for instance, support all types of stylus-based commands, including single-touch and multi-touch commands.

#4) Supported By All Types of Touchscreens

Don’t assume that all types of touchscreens support multi-touch technology. While most capacitive and resistive touchscreens do, fact, support multi-touch technology, others do not. Infrared (IR) touchscreens, for example, may not support multi-touch technology.

IR touchscreens use IR light to detect touch commands. More specifically, they look for disruptions in the IR light to determine where touch events occur. The problem with IR touchscreens is that they can’t identify two or more disruptions in IR light at the same time, so they typically don’t support multi-touch technology.

#5) Requires a Large Display Interface

Multi-touch technology doesn’t require a large display interface. Rather, it only requires the right type of touchscreen technology, such as capacitive or resistive. You can find smartphones with multi-touch technology. Even with their small display interfaces, many smartphones support multi-touch technology.