What is a touch event in Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs)?

Human Machine Interfaces: from touch gestures to touchless innovation 

We often think that a touch event is the simple action of touching a device with our finger(s), a glove, a pen, a stylus, or any type of object for that matter. However, for an engineer a “touch event” is more complex than that. From the ubiquitous push or tap, to the intuitive pinch and swipe, and an ever-growing array of gestures, these touch events have transformed how we interact with tablets, screens, and other touch-enabled devices.

Contact us
touch events for Human Machine Interfaces
illustration of all usual touch gestures or touch events as a reference guide

Touch gestures unveiled

Touch gesture controls have provided users with a natural and intuitive way to navigate through interfaces. Whether it's tapping to open, swiping to scroll through content, or pinching to zoom in, these actions have become second nature to many users. Below is an illustration showing some of the most common touch gestures.

The ghostly intruders

As seamless as touch gestures may seem, challenges like false touch events, commonly known as "ghost touch," often rear their heads. Ghost touch phenomena occur when a device registers touch inputs that weren't intentionally made by the user. Factors such as dirt, oil, moisture, conductive materials, rain, and even electromagnetic fields can trigger these ghost touches. Understanding and addressing these interference issues is crucial for enhancing the reliability and accuracy of touch-based interactions.

The precision playground: measures of touch Technology

Touch technologies are also measured and fine-tuned for precision and performance. The key metrics or dimensions listed below are essential to define the desired user experience:

  • Force range. Determines the sensitivity to pressure desired. It’s often described on a scale ranging from light touch to firm press.
  • Stroke range. Determines the depth (short or long) of actuation on a key for the controller to register the touch event. Often expressed in millimeters and usually limited to keyboards and keypads.
  • Touch accuracy. Evaluates the deviation between the touched point and the actual input. The level of precision is defined by an acceptable tolerance (often expressed in millimeters) to locate the touch event. This will also impact the strategic spacing between elements to avoid unintentional selections.
  • Calibration. Ensures that the touch interface accurately interprets the user's input.
  • Latency. Measures the delay between touch input and device response. This is crucial for creating a seamless and responsive user experience.
  • Life cycle or number of actuations. Determines the durability of the touch device. It is usually expressed in thousands or millions of actuations.

Embracing the touchless tomorrow

The future of touch technologies is taking a giant leap towards touchless innovation, promising a world where physical contact with devices becomes a thing of the past. Voice recognition was the first step toward touchless interaction or command, and now two new technologies are bringing new options to the world of HMI. Touchless user interfaces (TUI) are being used in mobile gadgets, games, computers, and music equipment.

Gesture recognition technology beyond touch

This technology allows users to control devices with gestures in the air, eliminating the need for direct physical contact. No matter the device or the environment, gesture recognition technology relies on sensors and cameras, algorithms, and AI to detect specific gestures and act accordingly based on system training. Gesture technology is redefining how we interact with digital interfaces. This not only adds a futuristic flair but also addresses concerns related to hygiene and device wear and tear.

Touchless user interfaces (TUI) Contactless control door unlocking button on the wall
Holographic tech touchless gesture recognition

Holographic horizons

The journey of touch technologies has been marked by the mastery of gestures, the battle against ghost touches, and the constant pursuit of precision. As look to the future, touchless innovations stand on the horizon, promising a world where our interactions with technology become even more seamless, intuitive, and, perhaps, a touch magical.

As we look further into the future, holographic technology is poised to revolutionize our digital experiences. Holographic technology uses mirrored projection plates which redirect light emanating from a hidden LCD display to create a floating image. Imagine interacting with holographic interfaces projected into the air, enabling a more immersive and intuitive user experience. While still in the early stages, holographic technology holds the potential to redefine how we perceive and interact with digital content.

a graphic reading supply chain terms

About NMG 

NMG has more than 85 years of experience partnering with organizations to bring their industrial, IoT, lighting, medical, telecommunications, consumer, and aerospace products to life. We solve your most complex challenges in engineering design, manufacturing, and supply chain management.  

Follow NMG 

Could your company use results like this?

We want to learn about your organization and understand your unique challenges.

Get in touch!

We can’t wait to create winning solutions with you.

For general inquiries, please fill out this form and our team will be in touch shortly.

or call 1-323-663-3971

Current customers or vendors/suppliers,
please click here for additional contact options.