If you’re planning to buy a new touchscreen, you might be wondering if a surface acoustic wave (SAW) touchscreen is the right choice. SAW touchscreens have become more common over the years. There are now tablet computers, smartphones, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and other touch-controlled devices that use this technology. Like all touchscreen technologies, however, SAW has unique characteristics. To determine whether a SAW touchscreen is right for you, there are several things you need to know.

An Introduction to SAW Touchscreens

SAW touchscreens are touch-controlled devices that use acoustic waves to detect touch commands. When turned on, SAW touchscreens project sound waves, also known as acoustic waves, that flow over the display interface. Any touch command performed on the display interface will disrupt the acoustic waves in that area. SAW touchscreens will then respond with the appropriate action — just like any other touchscreen device.

How SAW Touchscreens Work

Based on their appearance, SAW touchscreens may look like most all other touchscreens. They feature a display interface that you can tap or touch to perform commands. SAW touchscreens are unique, though, in their ability to produce acoustic waves.

The perimeter of a SAW touchscreen contains acoustic wave transmitters and corresponding receivers. The transmitters emit acoustic waves across the display interface, while the corresponding receivers absorb the acoustic waves. If you perform a touch command, you’ll disrupt the acoustic waves on the display interface. The SAW touchscreen will register this disruption as a touch command.

There are other types of touchscreen devices on the market, some of which include capacitive, resistive and infrared (IR) grid. With that said, only SAW touchscreens are capable of producing acoustic waves. Acoustic waves are essentially how they detect touch commands.

Benefits of SAW Touchscreens

You might be wondering what benefits SAW touchscreens offer. For starters, they are long-lasting. SAW touchscreens don’t use a mechanical method of operation. They rely on acoustic waves to detect touch commands. And with no mechanical stress, they can last for many years without succumbing to degradation or damage.

SAW touchscreens support the use of a stylus. You don’t have to use a bare finger to control a SAW touchscreen. While they support the use of a bare finger as well, SAW touchscreens will work with any object, including a stylus. Any object that’s placed directly on a SAW touchscreen’s display interface will disrupt the acoustic waves, thus triggering a touch command.