What is an Infrared Touchscreen and How Does It Work?

- Oct 07, 2020-

Not all touchscreen devices use capacitive or resistive technology. While these are the two most popular types of touch-sensing technology, there are others available, including infrared (IR). So, what is an IR touchscreen exactly, and how does it work?

Overview of Infrared Touchscreen Technology

IR touchscreen devices support touch-based input just like any other touchscreen device. However, the way in which they identify touch commands is completely unique. Capacitive touchscreen devices identify touch by measuring changes in capacitive, whereas resistive touchscreen devices identify touch by pressing together an upper and bottom layer. In comparison, IR touchscreens identify touch by looking for interruptions in a uniform beam of light.

Basically, IR touchscreens have a grid-like array of LED lights and photodetectors (sensors) around the edges of the device. While invisible to the naked eye, these LEDs are constantly emitting and projecting light. When you touch the surface, it creates a disturbance in this light. The device can then look to determine where this disturbance occurred; thus, allowing it to identify the precise point of contact.

Benefits of Infrared Touchscreens

So, what benefits does infrared touchscreen technology offer? For starters, they offer a superior level of strength and durability. Capacitive touchscreen devices, for instance, require patterning on the glass, which subsequently makes them more susceptible to damage. Even with Gorilla Glass, a capacitive touchscreen device may still break or shatter when dropped on the ground. IR touchscreen devices, however, don’t require patterning on the glass. And because of this, they are stronger and more durable than their capacitive counterpart.

Furthermore, IR touchscreens are highly sensitive to touch input. With a resistive device, you have to press down hard enough to press the upper layer into the bottom layer. Because IR devices identify touch by looking for a disturbance in light, however, even the most subtle touch will trigger a touch command. This makes it an excellent choice in applications where sensitivity is needed. With that said, the ultra-sensitive nature of IR technology can trigger erroneous input, such as a false touch from dirt or debris.

The Bottom Line of Infrared Touchscreens

IR is an excellent alternative to traditional capacitive and resistive touchscreen technology. It’s sensitive, strong, durable and long lasting. The technology is still relatively new, however; therefore, not all manufacturers offer IR touchscreen. Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of IR touchscreen technology and how it works.