Capacitive vs Infrared Touchscreens

- Oct 07, 2020-

Capacitive is the leading type of touchscreen technology. Even if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ve probably used — or still use — a capacitive touchscreen device. From smartphones and tablets to video game consoles and smart appliances, countless touchscreen devices are powered by capacitive technology.

But another a type of touchscreen technology that’s gaining momentum is infrared (IR). IR touchscreens aren’t as common as their capacitive counterparts, but they are still worth considering if you’re looking to buy one or more touchscreens. So, what’s the difference between capacitive and IR touchscreens?

Functionality

Capacitive and IR touchscreens function in completely different ways. With capacitive touchscreens, a uniform electrostatic charge is applied to the top layer. Because the human body is conducts electricity, touching the display will absorb some of this current, which the devices uses to detect touch commands.

In comparison, IR touchscreens don’t use an electrostatic charge to detect touch commands. Instead, they use a combination of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and sensors to detect touch commands. IR touchscreens are designed with LEDs that emit light to corresponding sensors across the surface of the display. If you touch the display, you’ll disrupt the LED light in that area, which the device uses to detect your touch command.

Support for Touch Commands

Another key difference between capacitive and IR touchscreens is that only the latter supports the use of both a bare finger and a gloved finger. You can’t perform touch commands on a capacitive device while wearing gloves. If you wear gloves, the electrostatic charge won’t be able to transfer from the device to your finger, so it won’t detect your touch command.

This isn’t a problem with IR touchscreens, however. Whether you use a bare finger, gloved finger or even a stylus, it will still detect your touch command. Touching the display with any object, or your finger, disrupts the device’s LED light, allowing it to pinpoint the location of your touch and register that location as a touch command.

Accuracy

Both capacitive and IR touchscreens are highly accurate, with the ability to detect the exact location of your touch command. Of those two technologies, however, capacitive is typically more accurate. Touching the display of a capacitive device will absorb electrostatic current from that specific area, allowing for a superior level of accuracy.

IR and capacitive are two completely different types of touchscreen technology. IR uses a grid-like array of LEDs and sensors to detect touch commands, whereas capacitive uses a uniform electrostatic current to detect touch commands.