Capacitive has dethroned resistive to become the world’s most popular touchscreen technology. Statistics show over nine in 10 of all newly manufactured touchscreens are powered by capacitive technology.

There are several types of capacitive technology, however, including surface. Surface capacitive follows the same basic principles as other capacitive technologies. It creates a uniform electrostatic field, which it measures to detect touch commands. What is a surface capacitive touchscreen exactly, and how do they differ from other touchscreens?

Surface Capacitive Defined

The term “surface capacitive” refers to a type of touchscreen technology that uses an electrostatic field with a conductive-coated layer to detect touch commands. Surface capacitive touchscreens feature a top layer. This top layer is coated with a conductive material. When turned on, surface capacitive touchscreens will apply a voltage to the top layer. Therefore, touching or tapping the display interface will draw some of the voltage to your finger.

Surface Capacitive vs Projected Capacitive

Surface capacitive touchscreens aren’t the same as projected capacitive touchscreens. While they both rely on capacitance to detect touch commands, they work in different ways.

Projected capacitive touchscreens are characterized by the use of intelligent processing. They feature sensors that are able to detect touch commands with a superior level of sensitivity. The downside to projected capacitive technology, however, is the cost. Projected capacitive touchscreens typically cost more than surface capacitive touchscreens.

Benefits of Surface Capacitive

Surface capacitive touchscreens are very durable. Since they use an electrostatic field to detect touch commands, they aren’t exposed to the same premature wear and tear as other touchscreen technologies, such as resistive. Resistive touchscreens, of course, use a mechanical method of operation. They contain multiple layers that press together during operation. Surface capacitive touchscreens don’t have moving parts, making them more exceptionally durable.

Depending on the specific type, some surface capacitive touchscreens work with gloves. Capacitive touchscreens typically require the use of a conductive object, such as a bare finger, to perform a touch command. A conductive object will draw some of the device’s electrostatic field, thereby allowing the capacitive touchscreen to determine when and where the touch occurred.

Surface capacitive touchscreens, however, often support the use of thin gloves. When wearing thin gloves, a small but noticeable amount of voltage will be transferred between your finger and the respective device. For most other capacitive touchscreens, you can’t wear gloves. Even if they are thin, gloves will restrict the flow of voltage between your finger and the device. Fortunately, this isn’t a concern with certain surface capacitive touchscreens.