What is a multi-touch screen

What is a multi-touch screen and how to distinguish it from a simple touch screen?

The modern world of technology is regularly updated with new gadgets and various technical equipment. Almost everyone heard such a buzzword as “multi-touch screen”. However, not all users can rationally evaluate the features and benefits of this device. Let’s understand in more detail what a multi-touch screen looks like, what kind of technological innovation is this?

Multi-touch capable of simultaneously recognizing more than two clicks


  • 1 Multi-touch: term and history
  • 2 The importance of multi-touch in the modern world
  • 2.1 Using multi-touch in gadgets:
  • 3 Distinctive features of multi-touch and conventional touch screen
  • 4 Multi-touch display: device and application
  • 4.1 Screen Design
  • 4.2 Additional features
  • 4.3 Scope
  • 5 How to understand if there is a multi-touch in the device?


Multi-touch: term and history

Multi-touch is a touch screen. It is able to respond to several touches at the same time. The keyboard in this device is missing, and the main tool is a light touch with your fingers. If you translate the term from English, it means “multiple touch.”

Back in the sixties of the last century, great minds worked on creating a high-tech touch screen. All these innovations were applied in ENRC (European Nuclear Research Center). The society first saw such screens in New York, and their developer was Jeff Khan. It was at the beginning of the XXI century that everyone in the world started talking about unrealistic technologies, when you can control a monitor picture with just one touch of a finger. It was a real technological explosion, and a huge step in the world of electronics.

The Importance of Multi-Touch in the Modern World

Now that we have become acquainted with this device, the question arises of what does a multi-touch screen mean in the modern world? Maybe there is no point in this function and not everyone is ready to overpay for it? It only seems so, in fact, such touching the screen not only simplifies the task, but also saves the user time. Of course, you don’t notice how mechanically you try to enlarge the picture with two fingers. You must admit that this function is very convenient and there is perplexity when the new touch gadget does not respond to this action.

If an ordinary user can live without these innovations in the device, then an avid gamer will encounter a lot of difficulties. Today, many well-known manufacturers adapt the gameplay control specifically for the multi-touch screen. They simply refuse button commands and use modern technologies to simplify the game process.


Using multi-touch in gadgets:

  • Management of games and entertainment applications.
  • One-touch image scaling.
  • Easy application management and time saving.

Distinctive features of multi-touch and conventional touch screen

Do not confuse these two screens. A conventional sensor responds to only one touch; for it, the sequence of the process is of particular importance. The multi-touch screen control is based on several touches simultaneously.

Regularly, engineers from leading companies develop new combinations that should facilitate the operation and management of electronic devices. Owners of smartphones have long felt the benefits of the zoom feature. Many manufacturers claim that their gadgets are able to recognize 10 to 20 touches simultaneously.

What is a multi-touch screen 1

Multi-touch display: device and application

Screen Design

Almost all modern mobile devices support this feature. And what is multitouch in a tablet? Here the answer will be simple – it is freedom of action and time saving when working with many applications. Many laptops and e-books also have this feature.

Such a screen can be developed in several technological ways, but the most practical and popular remains – resistive. Samuel Hurst is its main developer. The main advantage in this production scheme is low cost. True, this method was popular until 2008. After that, more universal options for creating a multi-touch screen were developed: tensometric, optical and inductive touchscreens. Today, many creators are working on a projected-capacitive touch screen, it is the famous company Apple that uses it in their gadgets.

What does this high-tech screen consist of? A glass panel covered with a resistive layer is called a capacitive monitor. Four electrodes are placed in the corners of the display, which pass alternating voltage. As soon as the finger touches the monitor, current leakage instantly occurs. The larger the display, the more touch points the device recognizes.

Additional features

Customers around the world are buying gadgets that feature a modern feature. Not surprisingly, Apple is actively introducing such screens into all of its mobile devices. Surely everyone who held such a device in their hands can understand its advantages over others. But still, let’s pay attention to additional features for those who doubt the functionality of such equipment:

  • Simple operation, saving time.
  • It is convenient to use such devices, since they harmoniously fit into the everyday life of a person.
  • The device can be operated by several users, but before that you need to make sure that the appropriate applications are present.
  • Management is carried out on an intuitive level, so not only children, but also pensioners, can handle the devices. Buttons are always misleading, and their absence simplifies the understanding of the workflow.

Application area

Capacitive multi-touch screen is understandable to almost everyone, which is why it is implemented not only in computer devices and mobile devices, but also in household appliances. Even children can easily figure out how to operate such a gadget. The equipment has an additional plus if control is via a multi-touch sensor. Especially popular are various multitouch panels in public places: educational institutions, medical centers, shopping pavilions and children’s entertainment centers. Often they are used to provide the necessary information and as advertising panels.

Visitors easily navigate by electronic map and get acquainted with product catalogs. Such systems are equipped with a microphone and speakers, which also simplifies the process of perceiving the necessary information for potential buyers and visitors. It is very important that the picture of the display is always distinguished by brightness and contrast, while the monitor is protected from scratches and other possible mechanical damage. Every entrepreneur wants to purchase such a multi-touch panel, as this increases the level of perception and adds prestige to any company.

What is a multi-touch screen 3

How to understand if there is a multi-touch in the device?

It is very important to be able to recognize the presence of such a screen even before purchase. Today, there are many scammers who give out ordinary touch devices as a high-tech multi-touch screen:

  • Even in the trading pavilion, turn on your device and go to the Google Maps menu. If the device has multi-touch, then scaling in this program will occur with two touch of the fingers. Otherwise, this means that the seller is giving you incorrect information, so purchase a different model.
  • Before making a purchase, go to the manufacturer websites. There you will find detailed information about each device.
  • The resistive screen in tablets and smartphones is not equipped with a multi-touch function, however, there are such users who violently prove the opposite. It’s just that on such screens you can implement only the function of rotation and scaling with two fingers, but this is where its possibilities end. You won’t be able to play modern games, which will certainly upset every user who was counting on a pleasant gameplay.

Today, monitors are not large enough to work on them with both hands, but in the near future every gadget will have such technological multi-touch screens. Everything that was once shown in science fiction films is being carried out and is actively being introduced into the everyday life of people. Great minds regularly include new features in gadgets and use the multi-touch screen to control, while developing new combinations and improving the technology itself. The touch screen is the face of current technology, and behind it, of course, is our whole future.

Advantages of touch screens

Touch screens are widely used in payment terminals at ATMs, etc. Unlike keyboards, they do not have moving parts, so they are durable: safe, vandal-proof and weatherproof. The great thing about touchscreen technology is that it is incredibly easy to use. Touch screens can display as much information (and as many touch buttons) as people need to perform a specific task, but no more, which allows people to perform a rather complex process in a very simple and systematic way. This is why touch screen technology has proven ideal for use in public information kiosks, ticket machines at railway stations, electronic voting machines, self-service grocery cash registers, military computers, and in many similar applications where using computers with screens and keyboards would be too problematic. Most of us now have Apple or Android smartphones that have multi-touch screens. The big advantage here is that the display can show you a screen designed specifically for what you are trying to do with it. If you want to make a phone call, it can display the usual numbers 0–9 so you can dial the number. If you want to send an SMS text message, it can display the keyboard (in alphabetical order or in QWERTY order). If you want to play games, the display may change again. Such touch displays are incredibly versatile: every minute they change according to your expectations. Photo: PC touch screens are still relatively rare, but they are very useful when hovering and dragging makes more sense than typing and clicking. This image shows a system called DSIMS (Deployable Ship Integration Multitouch System), used to teach people how to control the movements of aircraft and other equipment on board aircraft carriers. You just click on the plane and drag it to where you want to move, on the flight deck. The first invention, which bears any resemblance to the use of a modern touch screen, was called a light pen (shown in the photo above), a stylus with a photocell at one end and a wire going to a computer at the other end, which can draw graphics on the screen. It was developed in the early 1950s and became part of one of the first computer systems with the Project Whirlwind graphics system. However, the light pens did not work like modern touch screens, because there was nothing special in the screen itself: all the smart things happened inside the pen and the computer to which it was connected. In the 1960s and early 1970s, another key area in the development of touchscreens was the work of computer scientists specializing in what is called human-computer interaction (HCI), which sought to bridge the gap between people and computers. Among them were Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse; Ivan Sutherland, pioneer of computer graphics and virtual reality; and Alan Kay, a colleague from Sutherland who helped create a graphical user interface (or GUI – an image-based desktop used on almost all modern computers). The first gadget that worked like a modern touchscreen was called the “Discrimination Contact Sensor,” and it was patented on October 7, 1975 by George S. Hurst and William S. Colwell of Elographics, Inc. Much like a modern resistive touch screen, it was a device with two electrically conductive contact layers separated by an insulating layer that could be pressed together with a pen. The important thing is that it was designed to work “with a writing instrument (a pen is shown on the patent drawings), and not with any part of the writer’s hand.” So it was not like a modern touch screen device. Many people think that touch screens only appeared when Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone in 2007, but by that time touch-sensitive laptop computers had been around for 20 years. One of the first was the Linus Write-Top, a large tablet computer released in 1987. Five years later, Apple released the ancestor of its iPhone in the form of Newton, a laptop computer manufactured by Sharp, Japan. Guided by a pen-like stylus, it featured an innovative, but somewhat erratic handwriting recognition, but never had commercial success. Touch input and handwriting recognition were also featured in the Palm PDA series (personal digital assistants), which were extremely popular in the mid-1990s. All modern touch screen gadgets, from iPhones and iPads to tablets, owe these inventive innovators and their drawing machines!

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