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What are Touch Screen Monitors?

Touch screen monitors are interactive displays that respond to touch, allowing users to navigate and control a device directly with their fingers. They've revolutionized user interaction by offering intuitive, accessible technology for various applications. From smartphones to kiosks, they provide a seamless, tactile experience. Wondering how they're transforming your daily tech interactions? Let's explore their impact together.
Bryan Pedersen

Touch screen monitors are no longer confined to bar video games as novelty items. Today, they can be found in many stores as part of cash registers, in car dashboards and on many portable computers. With the growing popularity of touch screen enabled Palm Pilots and other PDAs, many people even have one in his or her pocket at all times.

The benefits of such technology are obvious. Rather than lugging along extra input devices such as a mouse or a keyboard, the user need only his finger to manipulate the chosen device. But it's not just mobile devices that benefit from this type of input. All kinds of devices can be equipped, including TV and computer monitors, LCD screens, and the older CRT computer monitors. As a result, a bartender can press on a screen to ring up drinks on a busy night rather than type in a price, a nurse can input patient information with one hand. Truly, the possibilities with touch screen monitors are endless.

A touchscreen tablet computer.
A touchscreen tablet computer.

Touch screen monitors usually come in three varieties that enable it to recognize a person's touch. These are resistive, capacitive and surface acoustic wave. The resistive type works by having two panels with a thin space between them. When the user presses the screen, the two panels touch at that point, and the exact coordinates are then registered with the computer.

A capacitive system runs a small electrical charge throughout the touch screen. When the user touches the chosen area, some of the electrical charge is distributed to the finger, lessening the charge at that location. The coordinates are again recorded and sent to the computer. This type of touch screen produces a clearer picture because it transmits more light and doesn't require two panels.

Finally, the surface acoustic wave system is the best, and results in the clearest picture. Transducers are used to send electrical signals across the screen, and if a user touches the screen, they can determine where based on how the electrical signal is received from one transducer to the other.

Since the capacitive system must have a finger to absorb electricity, most non-living objects won't register as a touch. Resistive and surface acoustic wave systems on the other hand react to just about any form of pressure. Each has its different advantages as a result, and manufacturers will only find new ways to make use of them.

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Discussion Comments


@wavy58 - It could be that the length of your fingernails is creating a gap between them and your fingertip. You might not be making full contact with the screen, even though it feels like it.

I’m assuming you don’t want to cut your nails, so you probably will get better results by just continuing to use the tips of them to scroll. Don’t push down too hard, though, because you could scratch the screen.

I keep my nails short, but this is just because they are brittle. On the bright side, it is really easy for me to use my touch screen phone to navigate the internet!


Does anyone here have a problem with getting a touch screen monitor on a phone to respond to your finger? I do, and it is really frustrating.

Because of this, I don’t have a touch screen phone. My husband does, and I use it to check my email now and then, but I have to push the areas several times, and scrolling is nearly impossible.

I have fingernails of medium length, and sometimes, I have to use the tips of them instead. The screen seems to respond better to them than to my actual flesh, for some reason.


There are some touch screen computer monitors in several department stores that allow you to find a gift registry. I have used them to shop for several friends who were either about to get married or about to have a baby, and they are really convenient.

The screens are large, and the buttons on the screen are also big, so your finger doesn’t miss and hit the wrong one. They allow you to select an option and to type in the name of the person whose registry you are seeking. Once you find them, you can print out the registry to use as a reference while walking through the store.

I think that even people who don’t feel comfortable using regular computers do all right when using these monitors. It doesn’t get any simpler than having to touch what you want, and you don’t have to search a keyboard for all the right buttons.


My friend has a laptop with a touch screen monitor. It seems like a neat idea, but his screen is covered in fingerprints now!

I couldn’t work on a computer like that. I do graphic design, and I have to be able to clearly see my work at all times. Having to work through fingerprints would really hinder the quality of my work.

I know that there are cloths out there designed for cleaning screens like this, but that would only last a short while. Fingerprints are just one of the things you have to deal with when you use touch screen monitors.


So if I purchase a touch smart monitor or simply an add-on touch screen, are there games that I can purchase/download to play via touch?

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    • A touchscreen tablet computer.
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      A touchscreen tablet computer.