Capacitive is the only technology that powers touchscreen devices. While it ranks as the most popular — accounting for over nine in 10 of all touchscreen devices — there are other touchscreen technologies on the market, including resistive. Resistive touchscreens are able to detect, as well as respond to, touch commands. Rather than measuring capacitance, though, they use a different method of operation. To learn more about the parts of a resistive touchscreen and how they work, keep reading.

The Basics of Resistive Touchscreens

Resistive touchscreens use a relatively simple method of operation to detect touch commands. Unlike capacitive touchscreens, they don’t use an electrostatic field. Only capacitive touchscreens use an electrostatic field, as it allows them to measure capacitance while subsequently identifying touch commands. Instead, resistive touchscreens use a pressure-based method of operation. Pressing the display interface will result in the device’s electrodes making contact. The contact between the respective electrodes will then trigger a touch command.

Two Layers of Electrically Resistive Material

Although there are different types of resistive touchscreens, nearly all of them feature two layers of electrically resistive material. They are known as “resistive touchscreens” because they feature layers of resistive material.

With that said, the resistive layers used in their construction contain electrodes that act as conductive contacts. Touching, tapping or otherwise pressing the display interface will force the electrodes to make contact. As the electrodes touch each other in the area of your touch command, the resistive touchscreen will use this information to determine the location of your touch command.

Spacer Layer of Air

Resistive touchscreens also feature a single space layer, which usually consists of either air or inert gas. The space layer isn’t a physical or tangible layer. Rather, it’s simply an area of voided space that separates the two aforementioned layers of electrically resistive material.

Even though it’s not a tangible layer, the space layer still plays an important role in the function of resistive touchscreens. Without the spacer layer, the two resistive layers would touch each other at all times. As a result, the resistive touchscreen will constantly register touch commands, even if you aren’t touching the display interface.

The spacer layer allows resistive touchscreens to detect touch commands by separating its two resistive layers. The two resistive layers will only make contact if and when you perform a touch command. Performing a touch command will push the top layer through the spacer layer, at which point it will make contact with the underlying resistive layer.