The Touchscreen technology is nothing new, and full touchscreen mobile phones have long since become a standard gadget to have for any tech freak. We have become accustomed to type phone numbers, write messages, flip through media files and so on simply by pressing or sliding either an object such as a stylus or fingers on the display of our mobile friends.


However, how many of you have given the smallest thought to the constant damage brought by our fingers or even worse, fingernails or styluses, to the display? The normal touch screens on mobile phones are not meant to last forever while enduring the punishment brought on a daily basis.

And nowhere is that more true than in the case of games. When using other features, such as phone book, SMS or media library, we aren’t stressing the touch screen too much. On the other hand, how many of us haven’t become frustrated when playing a game and thus either pressed harder or roughly slided our fingers along the surface of the poor, defenseless display. So, what is being done to protect the fragile components of a touch screen?

As I’m sure everyone knows, touch screen technology comes in various forms. The two most used touch screen build technologies are resistive and capacitive.

Basically, a resistive touch screen’s working part is made out of two electrically conductive layers, separated by a small gap. When pressure is applied, the two layers touch, closing an electrical circuit. Sensors and software then do the job of calculating where that point is.

This type of touch screen will work under any type of pressure, whether you’re your fingers or an object, such as a stylus. Unfortunately, seeing as the upper part needs to bend slightly for the system to work, it means that any protective layer added on top needs to be flexible. This of course makes the screen vulnerable to high pressure, but less vulnerable to short impacts.

The other widely used type is the capacitive touchscreen. This is only made out of one working layer made of conductive material. Pressure needs to be applied by another conductor, e.g. human fingers (no styluses, sorry). A small electrical discharge is then detected and, again, sensors and software take care of the rest. The protective layer in capacitive technology is usually made of a type of glass, since it does not need to be flexible. This will make the screen more vulnerable to focused impact but less vulnerable to widely applied pressure.

Both types of screens are vulnerable to humidity, dust and oils (even the natural ones produced by the human skin).

So then, what do manufacturing companies do to protect the touch screens they make? Well, basically, not much. Apart from adding a thin, top layer, made of plastic or glass, they trust the end users to protect their investment. Some might scream to high heaven that we are being scammed by the companies which do not care for clients, only for profits. Not so true.

The problem here is balance. You have to remember that a touch screen display needs to be able to accurately detect touch while protecting the fragile working components. No one would like a touch screen that only works if hit with a small hammer.

Also, the equipment using touch screen displays is mostly made out of mobile phones, tablets etc. The current trend is to make this type of equipment small, light, comfortable and, if possible, not-expensive. Adding more protection to the touch screen may just make your phone not only heavier and thicker, but also more expensive.

Also, one has to take into account that although touch screen technology is not new (it was first developed some time in the 1960s), it is still in its prime, still being experimented with.

As a conclusion, your touch screen display, just like all your other electronic gadgets will survive for as long as you mind the way you use it. Treat it well and it will serve you a long time.

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was the Managing Editor of Technology Personalized. He now writes about Windows 10 apps and reviews them on WindowsReport. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend


4 thoughts on “Touchscreens – Can we Really Protect Them?

  1. It would be great if you could make a matrix where you compare what the popular mobile phones use.. say Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola & HTC…

  2. Seriously? Protect your touch screen? In two years it is going to be junk. Buy the cheap insurance and pony up fifty bucks if you screw things up between then and the end of your contract. If you THAT many games on your phone the fifty dollars should jewell spent.

    These things are consumables, not works of art.

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