To say touchscreen devices are popular would be an understatement. Statistics show that nearly 3 million touchscreens are shipped globally each year. If you’re thinking about purchasing a touchscreen, though, you might be wondering which technology is best. There are several different technologies used to power touchscreens, each of which works in a different way.

Resistive Touchscreen Technology

Resistive is a type of a touchscreen technology that uses two or more layers consisting of electrically resistive materials that face each other. When you tap or touch the interface, the layers press together. Resistive touchscreens are durable and offer a high level of protection against moisture and debris, making them a popular choice for commercial applications.

Capacitive Touchscreen Technology

The most popular and widely used touchscreen technology is capacitive. They are called “capacitive” because they measure capacitance to identify touch commands. Capacitive touchscreens feature a top layer that’s coated with a clear, electrically conductive material, such as indium tin oxide (ITO). Tapping or touching the interface with a bare finger will cause the capacitance in that area of the interface to drop. The capacitive touchscreen will then use this information to pinpoint the exact location of your touch command.

Capacitive touchscreens are highly accurate and boast a high-quality display. With that said, they typically only work with a bare finger or a special capacitive stylus. If you use a non-conductive object to control a capacitive touchscreen, the device won’t register your commands.

Infrared Grid Touchscreen Technology

While not as common as resistive and capacitive, some touchscreens are powered by infrared grid technology. With infrared grid touchscreens, a grid-like arrangement of light-emitting diodes (LED) are placed on the outer edges of the interface. When you tap or touch the interface, the light will be disturbed in the area of your touch command. This allows the infrared grid touchscreen to determine the location of your touch command.

Surface Acoustic Wave Touchscreen Technology

Another type of touchscreen technology worth mentioning is surface acoustic wave (SAW). SAW touchscreens work in a completely different manner than all other touchscreen technologies. Rather than using pressure, capacitance or LEDs to detect touch commands, they use sound waves. SAW touchscreens are designed to project sound waves, also known as ultrasonic waves, across the surface of the interface. Upon tapping or touching the interface, your finger — or any other object for that matter — will block the sound waves in that area.