Have you heard of multi-touch technology? First popularized with the first-generation Apple iPhone, it’s become an increasingly common feature found in touchscreen devices. From smartphones and tablets to computer monitors and human machine interfaces (HMIs), countless touchscreen devices now support multi-touch functionality.

As the name suggests, multi-touch is a feature that supports commands touch commands consisting of two or more simultaneous points of contact. Normally, touchscreen devices only support a single point of contact. If you touch two different areas at the same time, it will only register your touch in one of these areas. Multi-touch devices differ in the sense that they support commands consisting of two or more simultaneous points of contact.

So, what benefits (if any) does multi touch offer? When used in touchscreen devices, this feature offers a myriad of benefits. For starters, it’s the perfect way to zoom in or zoom out on the display. If you’re reading an article or blog post on your smartphone and want to magnify the text, for example, you can pinch the screen using two of your fingers. As you pinch the screen in, it should magnify the respective area of the display — assuming it supports multi-touch commands.

Multi-touch can also be used to rotate images on a device. Rather than pinching, you perform a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation with two of your fingers. This causes the image or element  to rotate. Multi-touch rotation is an easily and convenient way to manipulate photos, images and other elements on a display. Without multi touch, users would have to rotate the element manually using a single finger or point of contact, which can be a painstaking and difficult process.

Furthermore, some people assume that multi-touch functionality is only available on capacitive devices, but this isn’t necessarily true. Many resistive touchscreen devices support this functionality as well. Of course, resistive touchscreen devices use pressure to identify touch commands, so they require a little work to support multi touch. Nonetheless, you can still find resistive devices that support two or more points of simultaneous contact.

These are just a few of the benefits offered by multi-touch devices. It’s also worth mentioning that multi-touch devices have become incredibly affordable in recent years. During the early days of the technology, devices supporting multi-touch commands were relatively expensive. Thanks to advancements in touchscreen technology, however, they are now cheaper than ever.