Projected capacitive touchscreens are undoubtedly popular. With thousands of keys, they offer a superior level of accuracy. From smartphones and tablets to monitors and smart appliances, many devices are powered by projected capacitive touchscreen technology. There are also surface capacitive touchscreens, however. What are surface capacitive touchscreens used for exactly?

The Basics of Surface Capacitive Touchscreens

To better understand the applications in which they are used, you must familiarize yourself with the mechanics of surface capacitive touchscreens. Like all capacitive touchscreens — including projected capacitive touchscreens — surface capacitive touchscreens detect touch commands by measuring changes in capacitance. They emit a uniform electrostatic field when turned on. Touching the interface with a conductive object will result in a change in capacitance.

Surface capacitive touchscreens specifically feature an insulator layer, and one side of the insulator layer is coated with conductive traces. During use, a voltage is applied to the opposite side of the insulator layer. The surface capacitive touchscreen will then measure the voltage while searching for changes in capacitance.


Many human machine interfaces (HMIs) feature an integrated surface capacitive touchscreen. Surface capacitive touchscreens offer some advantages over other technologies. Without any moving parts, for instance, they last a long time. On the other hand, surface capacitive touchscreens have limited resolution.

With their high level of durability and limited resolution, surface capacitive touchscreens are commonly used in HMIs. HMIs are control interfaces for machines. Many industrial machines in the modern workplace feature HMIs, which may or may not have a touchscreen interface.

Medical Devices

You might be surprised to learn that surface capacitive touchscreens are used in medical devices. Medical devices in hospitals and other healthcare settings often feature a touchscreen interface. For these interfaces, surface capacitive technology may be used.

Surface capacitive touchscreens are reliable and long-lasting. They can also be easily cleaned without disrupting their ability to detect touch commands. With that said, surface capacitive touchscreens require contact with a bare finger. If you plan on wearing surgical gloves, you may want to choose an alternative technology like projected capacitive.


In addition to HMis, surface capacitive touchscreens are commonly found in automated teller machines (ATMs). Statistics show that there are roughly a half-million ATMs in the United States. While their features vary, most ATMS now feature a touchscreen interface.

Surface capacitive touchscreens are commonly used in ATMs. As previously mentioned, they are durable. Surface capacitive touchscreens don’t contain any moving parts, so they can withstand regular use without failing or degrading.