Not all touchscreen devices use the same mechanism to detect, as well as respond to, touch commands. There are many different touchscreen technologies, each of which uses a different mechanism. Researchers, in fact, have even developed a type of spray-on touchscreen technology. How does a spray-on touchscreen work exactly?

About the Spray-On Touchscreens

Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Bristol developed a fully functional touchscreen device that can be sprayed onto a surface. Known as ProtoSpray, it supports most surfaces — including both flat and irregular surfaces. The product is sprayed onto a surface, at which point the newly created interface can be used to control a corresponding device via touch commands.

ProtoSpray works in conjunction with a 3D printer. It doesn’t just a traditional 3D printer, though. Instead, it uses a special 3D printer that’s been modified to spray the material. ProtoSpray essentially builds touchscreen devices by spraying material onto a surface. This material serves as the electronic components for the touchscreen device.

We have liberated displays from their 2D rectangular casings by developing a process so people can build interactive objects of any shape. The process is very accessible: it allows end-users to create objects with conductive plastic and electroluminescent paint even if they don’t have expertise in these materials,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr. Ollie Hanton, in a press release.

What’s Next for Spray-On Touchscreens?

Considering that ProtoSpray is a new technology that was just recently proposed, it’s unknown when or even if it will be sold on the market.

Spray-on touchscreens certainly sound promising. After all, they would allow anyone to develop a touchscreen on any surface simply by printing it. Unfortunately, the technology is still in the very early stages of development, so it may take a while before it’s complete.

Other Touchscreen Technologies

Even if spray-on touchscreens never become a reality, there are still plenty of other high-quality and effective touchscreen technologies from which to choose. Capacitive is the most popular type of touchscreen technology — and for good reason. It offers excellent image clarity along with a high level of sensitivity to touch commands. Capacitive touchscreens detect touch commands by measuring capacitance for changes.

Along with capacitive, another common type of touchscreen technology is resistive. Resistive touchscreens are designed with two layers made of an electrically resistive material. Touching the interface will force the top later into the bottom layer, at which point the device will detect your touch command. Other touchscreen technologies available include surface acoustic wave (SAW) and infrared (IR) grid.