It’s no secret that most touchscreen devices are now powered by capacitive touch-sensing technology. Smartphones, tablets, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and countless other touchscreen devices use capacitive technology to detect users’ touch commands. It’s a highly effective solution that allows for fast and accurate touch sensing. But there are other touchscreen technologies available, including infrared (IR). Below are five facts about IR touchscreens that may surprise you.

#1) They Don’t Use Conductors

Unlike capacitive and resistive touchscreens, IR touchscreens don’t use conductors. Instead, they feature IR light-emitting diodes that project light across the surface of the display interface. When you touch the display, your finger — or a stylus — will disrupt the IR light at the location of your touch command, allowing the IR touchscreen to easily recognize and sense your command.

#2) They Are Highly Sensitive to Touch Commands

IR touchscreens are incredibly sensitive to touch commands, with even light-pressure touches triggering a command. You don’t have to press down hard for the IR touchscreen to register your command. In fact, just hovering your finger directly over the surface should allow the device to pinpoint the location of your touch command. In this regard, IR touchscreens are more sensitive to touch commands than resistive touchscreens.

#3) They Are Used Extensively in Retail POS Systems

You’ll find IR touchscreens used in a variety of applications, one of the most common being retail point-of-sale (POS) systems. From small mom-and-pop shops to national chain stores, countless retailers use IR POS systems because of their high level of versatility and durability.

#4) Dirt and Debris May Cause Issues

If you’re going to invest in an IR touchscreen, you’ll need to keep it clean so that it doesn’t suffer from false commands triggered by dirt and debris. As previously mentioned, IR touchscreens identify touch commands using an array of IR-emitting LEDs and sensors around the edges of the display. The LEDs project IR light to the corresponding sensors. As a result, tapping or touching anywhere on the display will disrupt the IR light and prevent it from reaching the appropriate sensor. Unfortunately, this means the presence of dirt and debris on an IR touchscreen’s display may cause false touch commands. If dirt is covering the display, the IR device may assume the dirt is actually your finger or a stylus.

#5) They Don’t Require Patterning on the Glass

Another unique attribute of IR touchscreens is their lack of patterning on the top glass layer. Resistive touchscreens are generally designed with patterning on the glass layer, whereas IR touchscreens do not feature patterning on the glass layer. It’s a subtle difference that’s often overlooked by individuals and businesses when choosing a touchscreen device.