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A touch screen is a technology wherein it allows the interface between the user (human) and the device. The touch screens have found applications in almost every field from the mobile phones, kiosks, ATMs, self checkouts in supermarkets and many more places.The word Touchscreens first emerged from the academic & research labs in the 1960s, but its existence was only felt in the early 70s, during which time, the first touch screens were developed. This was developed by Sam Hurst, an instructor at the University of Kentucky in 1931, which was basically an interface with the transparent surface, the first touch sensor called "Elograph".Later in 1972 Sam patented his Elgograph, which led to the evolution of his new business, Elgographics.In 1977 Sam Hurst along with the financial support from Siemens Corp led to the invention of the first curved glass touch sensor interface, called a "Touch screen".
Touch Screen Types:
Over the past years of research, different types of touch screen technologies have been developed. The different types of touch screen are 5 & 4 wire resistive, capacitive, surface acoustic wave, Infrared, Near Field imaging touchscreens.These types usually depend on the interaction that is the way in which the finger touches the screen or device. Nowadays you can find touch screens everywhere, be it ticket machines, i-phones, information points and so on.
Inspite of all the advantages and the potential enhancements of the touch screen technology, they are still susceptible to a large number of limitations (disadvantages) which needs to be taken care of. It still requires some sort of refining and improvement. The most important problem is the ergonomic issue which places excessive stress o human fingers when used for periods. Also I particular they are not useful for the blind and disabled, but they may be helpful for in experienced users.
In recent years the trend has been to move towards touch screen technology, and they are most likely to replace traditional approaches (e.g. mouse and keyboards).This situation seems very unlikely in the future-For e.g. the keyboard, the mouse are still very helpful for many tasks particularly while playing games. A more sensible approach would be to use the combination of both and find ways in which these devices can compliment each other, so that the interaction techniques provide an enhanced interaction experience.
In today's world, the area where a lot of research is being conducted is in the use of Multi-touch screen, that is how multiple users can simultaneously share the data. This itself demonstrates the very exciting future of touch screen and revolutionise the way human interact with the visual display device or computers.
Multi touch-screen technology involves using more than one fingers for one touch at a time. The multi touch technology allows easy zoom in ,zoom out of pictures,select and drag options, and also the web pages can be accessed just by making the contact with the screen with two fingers at a time (pinching of screen).The exact power of Multi technology can only be known when large screens are used instead of the small screens (for e.g. phones).
Large multi touch screens which can accommodate more than 10 fingers were developed by Jefferson Han. His applications involved touch screen tables, digital walls, in which more than one user can use the resource.
It was all started by Jefferson Han with a presentation at the TED conference. Since then many have conducted research on the various techniques to construct a multi touch device. Several applications have been developed to showcase the capabilities of this "multi model" form of input to a computer. Recently, the multi-touch-based devices are starting to penetrate the consumer computer market, especially starting with apple's i-phone and Microsoft's Surface.
With i-phone's and surface appearance in 2007 and the corresponding marketing campaigns, people might have a hard time believing that multi-touch is an old phenomenon. However, the history of multi-touch starts as early as 1983 starting with the idea of "soft machines" by Bell laboratories .
Jeff Han is recognized as one of the leading contents expert in industry regarding the multi - touch computing. The multi -touch device created by Han in 2005 takes touch sensing technology which can recognize one point of contact to the next level to recognize multiple points of contacts simultaneously. These points of contact can include more than one finger at a time or even an object placed on the device. Han describes this new model of touch sensing technology as "touch is a very natural and intuitive way for people to interact." This now presents a new means of interactivity between humans and computers, which describes as "enabling the user to finally interact with both hands at once, as well as employ more complex chording gestures, promising great improvements in usability,intuitiveness,and efficiency."
Developers can now create applications with richer experiences for users, which can create an "inviting environment from multiple attendees to be able to walk up to and interact with the display". He stated that this new means of interactivity fits naturally with application for music, games, and entertainment where such applications will be able to "seamlessly accommodate multiple users either collaboratively or competitively".
In addition to Han's research, several others in both industry and academia have taken interest in multi-touch devices. An on-line community to promote the collaboration of research related to interactive media and multi-touch technologies was founded in 2006 as the Natural User Interface Group (NUI Group).Today the online community has several open source projects currently being developed with an emphasis on "machine sensing techniques" (Natural User Interface Group), The goal of the NUI group is to discover methods to utilize multi-touch applications for the areas of business, education and the arts. By focusing on discovering the most effective, budget-friendly solutions, the NUI Group's community projects are open -source.
From the inspiration of Jeff Han's success in addition to the available resources provided by the NUI Group the number of individual experimenting with multi touch technologies continued to and still continues to grow, through this influx of interest several configurations that have been developed. There are different types of multi-touch technologies; some of them are Diffused Illumination (DI), Capacitance Testing and Frustrated Total Internal Reflection Method (FTIR).
The two most important technologies of them are FTIR & DI. Let us now consider the FTIR. The FTIR uses light generated by infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) through a medium, such as acrylic also referred to as Plexiglas by internal reflection. Han recommends using "high power infrared LEDs along all the edges of the medium". Once a finger from a user touches the acrylic surface the light is "frustrated" which results in the light redirected downwards to be sensed by an infrared camera. This technique is currently the most popular, which can be attributed to the devices built by Jeff Han. The FTIR method, as described by Han, is "zero-force and true" meaning that it doesn't rely on pressure, although pressure can affect the accuracy of the contact area of the object." True" refers to the ability to distinguish the difference between an object hovering over the surface versus an object making contact with the surface (Han).
The field of multi-touch interfaces is exciting and promises to completely change the way we interact with computers. It's even hypothesized that we will soon see the end days of the venerable keyboard and mouse. The impact of touch screen technology on our day to day lives is very high and will continue to rise with the advancement of technology in the future. Some of the applications of small scale for multi touch are viewing photos, Games with multiple players .Large scale applications of the multi-touch involves military applications, government use etc.Multi touch is going to be the future in touch screen technology. It may bring a whole new dimension/life on our daily activities, especially the gaming industry.
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Scott Klemmer professor of computer science at Stanford University.
TED conference by Jeff Han in 2006.
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