Differences between capacitive and infrared touch screens

Delve into differences to find your perfect fit.

In this blog post, we'll explore the major differences between capacitive and infrared touch screens. We’ll compare their technical aspects, range of sizes, environmental tolerance, applications, and ruggedness to help engineers make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate touch screen interface for their projects.

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Side-by-side comparison: capacitive vs. infrared touch screens

When comparing capacitive and infrared touch screens, several key factors come into play. Let's break down these differences in a side-by-side comparison.

AspectCapacitive touch screenInfrared touch screen
TechnologyUses the electrical properties of the human body to detect touch Relies on infrared light beams to detect touch
Touch sensitivityHighly sensitive, detects touch with light pressure Sensitive to touch and can detect objects of varying sizes
Range of sizesTypically available in smaller to medium-sized displays (<32”) Available in a wide range of sizes, from small to large panels (20”-150”)
Tolerance to environmental factorsSusceptible to interference from moisture and contaminants Less affected by environmental factors, suitable for outdoor use
ApplicationsCommonly used in smartphones, tablets, and consumer electronics Widely deployed in public kiosks, industrial control panels, and outdoor displays
DurabilityGenerally durable but may be prone to scratches on the surface Robust construction, resistant to scratches and physical damage
Multi-touch supportSupports multi-touch gestures for intuitive interaction Capable of multi-touch functionality, allowing for advanced gestures

About capacitive touch screens

Capacitive touch screens operate by detecting changes in capacitance when a conductive object, such as a finger, comes into contact with the screen. This technology offers high sensitivity, allowing for precise touch input with minimal pressure. Capacitive touch screens are commonly found in smartphones, tablets, and other consumer electronics due to their responsiveness and support for multi-touch gestures. However, they may be susceptible to interference from moisture and contaminants, making them less suitable for outdoor use or harsh environments. 

About infrared touch screens

Infrared touch screens rely on infrared light beams to detect touch. These screens are capable of detecting touch from any object, regardless of its conductivity, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. Infrared touch screens are commonly used in public kiosks, industrial control panels, and outdoor displays due to their robust construction and tolerance to environmental factors. They offer excellent durability and resistance to scratches and physical damage, making them ideal for demanding environments. 

What’s best between capacitive and infrared touch screens?

The choice between capacitive and infrared touch screens depends on the specific requirements of the touch screen interface application. Capacitive touch screens offer high sensitivity and support for multi-touch gestures, making them ideal for consumer electronics and handheld devices. However, they may be susceptible to interference from moisture and contaminants. In contrast, infrared touch screens provide robust construction, tolerance to environmental factors, and support for touch detection from any object, making them suitable for public kiosks, industrial control panels, and outdoor displays. 

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