Resistive is one of the most popular touchscreen technologies. Available for both consumer and commercial devices, it receives its namesake from its use of electrically resistive layers. All resistive touchscreens have layers made of electrically resistive material. To use a resistive touchscreen, you’ll have to press the top layer.

Some touchscreens use capacitive technology instead of resistive technology. Capacitive is even more popular than resistive, in fact. Most touchscreens produced and shipped are powered by capacitive technology. While capacitive touchscreens only require direct contact with a conductive object to use, however, resistive touchscreens require pressure.

The 2 Layers of a Resistive Touchscreen

To better understand why they require pressure to use, you must look at the layers of a resistive touchscreen. Resistive touchscreens feature two main layers. As previously mentioned, they are made of an electrically resistive material.

The two layers feature electrodes or strips or conductive coatings that face each other. When you turn on a resistive touchscreen, a voltage will be applied to one of these layers. The other layer will sense this voltage. Pressing the display interface will from the top layer to make contact with the bottom layer.

The Need for Pressure Explained

Without pressure, the two layers will remain separated. Resistive touchscreens feature two layers that, by default, are separated by a layer of air or inert gas. Resistive touchscreens are able to detect touch commands based on pressure.

Applying pressure to the display interface will allow the two layers to touch. The voltage applied to one of these layers will then be sensed by the other layer. The “sensing” layer will identify the location of the touch command, which is the area where the two layers make contact.

Advantages of Pressure-Based Sensing

While resistive touchscreens require more work to use than capacitive touchscreens, there are advantages associated with their pressure-based sensing. You can control them with any object, for instance. Capacitive touchscreens typically only work with a bare finger. If you use a nonconductive object, they won’t register your commands.

Resistive touchscreens, though, work with any object. You can control them with a bare finger or while wearing gloves. You can even control resistive touchscreens with a stylus or similar pen-like object. As long as you apply enough pressure, the resistive touchscreen will register your touch command.

Resistive touchscreens are also durable. They can withstand harsh environments, such as the outdoors, without failing. This makes them a popular choice for commercial applications.