It’s a common misconception that capacitive touchscreens don’t support the use of a stylus. Unlike resistive touchscreens, capacitive touchscreens measure capacitance to detect touch commands. Capacitance refers to the electrostatic charge generated by the touchscreen device. When you tap a capacitive touchscreen with a bare finger, your finger will draw some of its electrostatic charge, thereby allowing the device to detect your touch command.
Styluses, of course, are typically made of plastic or similar materials. As a result, they don’t have the same conductive properties as the human body. This is why most styluses won’t work with capacitive touchscreens. Thankfully, capacitive styluses can work with capacitive touchscreens. What is a capacitive stylus, and how do they work exactly?
What Is a Capacitive Stylus?
A capacitive stylus is a special type of stylus that’s used to perform touch commands on capacitive touchscreens. They feature a similar size, shape and appearance as traditional styluses. Unlike traditional styluses, though, they can perform touch commands on capacitive touchscreens.
You can use a capacitive stylus to control other types of touchscreens as well. Whether it’s a resistive, capacitive or even a surface acoustic wave (SAW) touchscreen, it should respond to input performed with a capacitive stylus.
How Does a Capacitive Stylus Work?
Capacitive styluses work by relying on conductive materials to mimic the conductive properties of the human body. As mentioned above, capacitive touchscreens measure capacitance to detect touch commands. Therefore, they only respond to input performed with a conductive object, such as a bare finger. Capacitive styluses are made of conductive materials, so they’ll change the capacitive touchscreen’s capacitance when used to perform touch commands.
Most capacitive styluses aren’t made entirely of conductive materials. Rather, they consist of a hard plastic outer shell with a conductive interior and tip. When you press a capacitive stylus against a capacitive touchscreen, it will draw some of the device’s electrostatic field, resulting in a change of capacitance. The capacitive touchscreen will register this information as a touch command.
A capacitive stylus is a type of input accessory that’s designed to work with capacitive touchscreens. It features conductive material that’s able to absorb some of the electrostatic field generated by capacitive touchscreens. Capacitive styluses work by mimicking the conductive properties of the human body. Like a bare finger, they will draw some of the device’s electrostatic field — a process that’s identified and registered as a touch command by the device’s touch controller.