Multi-touch is a common feature of many touchscreens. All touchscreens, of course, support touch commands. While some of them only support a single point of contact at any given time, most of them now support multiple points of simultaneous contact. This feature is known as multi-touch technology.

You’ve probably used multi-touch technology before. Pinching the display interface, for instance, requires the use of multi-touch technology. Whether you’re trying to zoom in or out, the touchscreen must support multi-touch commands. Even if you’re familiar with the mechanics of multi-touch technology, though, you may not know its history of it. This post explores the history and origins of multi-touch technology.

The Advent of Multi-Touch Technology

Multi-touch technology was pioneered in the early 1980s by the Input Research Group at the University of Toronto. The team developed a glass panel with a camera. The glass panel served as the touchscreen interface, whereas the camera served as the controller. As users touched the glass panel, the camera would identify the locations of their touch commands.

Capacitive Multi-Touch Technology

At the time, the team’s system consisted of a glass panel with a camera. Just a few years later, though, they developed a capacitive-based device that supported multi-touch commands.

Capacitive touchscreens are those that measure capacitance to detect touch commands. During use, they generate a uniform electrostatic charge, which they measure for changes. Touching the display interface will draw some of this electrostatic charge to your finger. When this occurs, the capacitive touchscreen will register a touch event. The Input Research Group at the Universit developed a capacitive touchscreen that supported multi-touch commands.

Multi-Touch Smartphones

The first smartphone to support multi-touch commands was the LG Prada. Originally released in May 2007, it was a capacitive-based device that, like similar devices, measured capacitance to detect touch commands. But the LG Prada was unique because it was the first smartphone to support multi-touch commands.

The Apple iPhone supported multi-touch commands as well. However, it was released after the LG Prada. Today, most smartphones — along with many other types of touchscreen devices — support multi-touch commands.

In Conclusion

Multi-touch technology is an innovative feature that’s available with many touchscreens. It allows you to perform touch commands by touching two or more areas of the display interface at the same time. With multi-touch technology, you aren’t limited to touching a single area; you can touch multiple areas.