Not all touchscreens are powered by capacitive technology. Capacitive is the world’s leading touchscreen technology, but there are other technologies used to detect and respond to touch commands, one of which is infrared (IR).
IR touchscreens support touch commands — just like all other types of touchscreens. They are distinguished from other types of touchscreens, however, by their use of IR light. Also known as IR grid touchscreens, IR touchscreens feature a grid of IR light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Using these IR LEDs, they are able to detect and respond to touch commands. Here are some of the most common parts that you can expect to find in an IR touchscreen.
Like capacitive and resistive touchscreens, IR touchscreens feature an overlay. The overlay is a sheet of transparent material — typically acrylic or glass — that serves as the top layer. To control an IR touchscreen, you’ll have to touch the overlay.
All IR touchscreens feature IR LEDs. These are special diode-based bulbs that emit IR light. IR touchscreens receive their namesake from the use of IR LEDs. When you turn on an IR touchscreen, it will immediately beam IR light across the interface surface. The IR LEDs are responsible for producing this light. They are designed to beam light vertically and horizontally so that the IR touchscreen can detect touch commands.
In addition to IR LEDs, IR touchscreens feature photodetectors. Photodetectors are sensors that are designed to sense IR light. Most IR touchscreens have a perimeter of photodetectors. In other words, you can find the photodetectors around the edges of the interface. As the IR LEDs beam IR light, the photodetectors will sense this IR light. Performing a touch command, of course, will disrupt the IR light, in which case the photodetectors will identify your touch command.
IR touchscreens require a display as well. Most of them feature a liquid-crystal display (LCD). LCDs are displays that leverage liquid pixels — along with a backlighting system — to produce images. As you perform touch commands on an IR touchscreen, the images will typically change. All touchscreens require some type of display, and IR touchscreens are no exception.
IR is still a relatively new touchscreen technology. Therefore, it’s not available for all touchscreens. Most touchscreens use either capacitive or resistive technology, the former of which is the most popular. Nonetheless, IR offers an attractive alternative to these technologies. IR touchscreens feature an overlay, IR LEDs, photodetectors and an integrated display.