Learn the differences between our three best-selling touch technologies.
TSItouch offers a multitude of touch technology solutions, but there are three technologies that generate 99% of our touch screen sales: Infrared, ShadowSense, and Projected Capacitive.
Each of these touch technologies have competitive advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account when searching for a touch solution that will fit your needs and budget. Below is an explanation of how all three types of touch technology work as well as some of the specific advantages of each.
When individuals speak of touch screen products in the commercial industry (specifically for large format displays), they are almost always speaking of infrared touch. Infrared technology is the baseline standard in the touch screen industry, easily accounting for the majority of the marketplace.
Infrared touch screens operate on the basis of light-beam interruption, commonly referred to as beam break, to determine the location of touch events. Infrared uses an array of X/Y infrared LED and photo detector pairs around the edges of the screen to detect a disruption in the pattern of LED beams. These LED beams cross each other in vertical and horizontal patterns. As an object touches the screen, it interrupts the light-beam causing a loss of light at the sensor. This loss of light is used to determine the location of the touch event, helping the sensors pick up the exact location of the touch.
In essence, an invisible X/Y grid is created in front of the display, allowing the touch system to pinpoint where you are touching on the screen, then register it as a mouse click in that location. Make sense? If not, watch this short video to see IR touch in action.
A major benefit of such a system is that it can detect essentially any input including a finger, gloved finger, stylus, or pen. The infrared touch system is also the most cost-effective touch solution we offer, and available for a vast amount of display sizes (32” – 100+”).
The majority of our infrared interfaces come in either 6 or 10 points of simultaneous touch, though IR is available with 32 or more touch points. The baseline infrared touch solution is not sunlight immune, nor is it water or dust resistant. But, there are versions of our IR solutions that are either sunlight immune, water/dust resistant, or both. These solutions are typically used in outdoor kiosk situations and come at a slightly higher price than our typical IR solutions.
The easiest way to explain a ShadowSense touch solution is to think of it as a high-end Infrared touch system. ShadowSense is created by the touch technology manufacturer Baanto. Basically, ShadowSense is a branded name for Baanto’s high octane spin on infrared touch technology.
But, merely calling ShadowSense an infrared touch solution would be doing a disservice to Baanto. With capabilities like shape detection, sunlight immunity, transparency detection, false touch prevention, and palm rejection, ShadowSense is truly a tier above any infrared touch technology.
Rather than attempt to explain the intricacies of how a ShadowSense touch system functions, I will defer to the information provided by Baanto on their website:
On ShadowSense’s superior performance…
“ShadowSense touch is based upon the precise and accurate detection of an object’s shadow as it enters, hovers within, or transitions out of a sensor’s field of view. The object’s position in the touch plane is then calculated based upon the ratio of a fully illuminated condition to the shadowed state for multiple light sources and multiple sensors.
When a finger or an object touches the screen, multiple shadows are cast out at different angles. Each one of the ShadowSensors calculates the angle of the shadow that falls upon it. The on-board processor calculates the interference pattern of the shadows detected by the various sensors. Simply, the interference pattern is where multiple shadows converge together and best describe the touch location. When the shadows converge, the intersection of the shadows also describe the size and shape of the object.”
On object detection and multitouch…
“When an object touches the optical plane, it casts several shadows that are detected by each sensor. The intersection of the shadows creates an area approximated by a circle that represents the size and shape of the touch object. This allows ShadowSense to differentiate between a finger, a stylus, an eraser, or any other object.
In a 6 sensor configuration, a touch point is detected when all 6 shadows intersect with each other. The intersection of any fewer shadows will not yield a valid touch. If there are multiple touch objects then there will be multiple areas where all 6 shadows intersect with each other, allowing ShadowSense to track each one individually.”
With all the bells and whistles that ShadowSense technology has to offer, it is clear to see why it should not be directly categorized as an infrared solution. The one caveat to ShadowSense is its price tag. Though it outperforms IR in most every way, users will need to pay up for the uptick in performance and capabilities.
Learn more about ShadowSense Technology at baanto.com or check out some of their explanatory videos here:
Projected Capacitive (PCAP)
Unlike infrared touch, projected capacitive touch is fairly new to the large format commercial display industry. Despite this, PCAP is the type of touch that nearly every user is most familiar with. Though not knowing it by name, most everyone interacts with PCAP touch every day through the use of their smart phones or tablets.
Though the current market share of PCAP in the large format touch world is relatively small when compared to infrared, the usage of this technology is growing rapidly. Infrared may be today's industry standard, but PCAP is tomorrow's. The future of touch is moving towards this higher performing and sleeker looking touch interface.
In a projected capacitive touch system, a touch point is detected when a finger or stylus comes in contact with the surface, signaling a change in the system’s electromagnetic field and capacitance. This touch triggered change is then pin-pointed and converted to locations on an X/Y electronic grid. The system uses this point on the X/Y grid to determine the placement of the touch. As a PCAP touch system works off capacitance, a gloved finger or non-conductive object will not register as a touch point.
PCAP offers the fastest performance and highest amount of simultaneous touch points (with up to 100 touch points available). Beyond performance, our PCAP bezels are the most aesthetically pleasing products we offer. Unlike IR, where our bezel must jut out about one inch in front of the display to allow for the touch system to operate, our PCAP interface features a zero-bezel flat front design. This flat front is achieved because the projected capacitive touch technology is housed in a film that is bonded to the back side of our protective glass.
The flat-fronted PCAP design makes for an extremely durable and easy to clean solution. Because the technology is housed behind protective glass, PCAP technology is not susceptible to any outside elements. As this type of touch technology does not rely on any light waves to function, it is also not affected adversely by any exposure to sunlight. With the bezel designs flat front, users do not need to worry about frequently using cleaning products on these solutions. Any excess runoff of cleaning product will not come in contact with PCAP touch technology, which cannot be said for IR and ShadowSense technologies.
Our newest projected capacitive interface design features a thermoplastic seal around the outside edge of the solution. The thermoplastic polymer creates a no harborage seal between the edge of our protective glass and the inside of our cold rolled steel bezel. The seal prevents any buildup of bacteria or residue anywhere on the front of the solution. This sealed PCAP design is our top-tier solution and is well suited for applications in the quick service restaurant and medical industries. Watch the video below to see how our thermoplastic seal is applied:
The better performance and sleeker look of projected capacitive technology comes at a higher price point than both infrared and ShadowSense technologies.
Depending on your budget and application, any three of these touch technologies may suit your needs. See our comparison chart below or contact our sales team to help you decide what touch solution is best for your project.