How does an infrared (IR) touch screen work?

Key factors to optimize the design of your infrared touch screen

The versatility, durability and clarity of infrared touch technology is driving the global demand for touch screens. This demand is especially noticeable in retail industry for kiosks and in the medical industry as integrated HMI for medical devices and diagnostic equipment. At Nelson Miller Group, we pride ourselves on integrating innovations in touchscreen technology, ensuring seamless user experiences and enhanced functionality for a wide range of applications.How does an infrared (IR) touch screen work?

Contact us
cash regsiter with touch screen to process payment

How does an Infrared (IR) touch screen work?

  • Infrared emission grid. Infrared touch screens rely on a grid structure composed of infrared light-emitting diodes (IR LEDs) arranged along one axis and infrared sensors along the orthogonal axis. This grid generates an invisible lattice of infrared beams across the surface of the screen.
  • Interrupted beam detection. Upon user interaction, the infrared beams are obstructed, triggering an interruption in the emitted light. Photodetectors, strategically positioned to capture this interruption, promptly identify the location of the touch event.
  • Coordinate determination. The onboard controller processes the disrupted beam data, employing algorithms to calculate the precise X and Y coordinates of the touch point. This information is then relayed to the host device, facilitating accurate spatial mapping.
  • Multi-Touch capacity. Leveraging simultaneous interruption analysis, infrared touch screens support multi-touch functionality. The controller adeptly manages multiple points of interruption, enabling intricate gestures and multi-finger interactions.

Key factors to evaluate when assessing the components of an infrared touch screen system

When working with the manufacturer of an infrared (IR) touch screen, there are some key dimensions you should consider. Evaluating these items with your manufacturer’s team of engineers will help you optimize your design:

  • Wavelength consistency and longevity of infrared LEDs (IR LEDs). High-quality IR LEDs with a long lifespan and quality construction allow for prolonged operational reliability and strong performance.
  • Sensitivity and resolution of infrared sensors. The level of sensitivity and the resolution of the sensors impact the level of accuracy in detecting interruptions and identifying precise touch points, which contributes to increased overall accuracy.
  • Processing speed and multi-touch support controller. There is a natural latency between the moment an interruption is detected and the following command that is generated. The real-time processing of touch events is therefore an important measure of performance.
  • Transparency and durability of glass or acrylic surface. Based on material selection you can achieve between 80% and 100% optical clarity. Hardness is measured on the Mohs scale (a value between 1 and 10 is given to materials based on their scratch resistance). A higher value on the Mohs scale indicates a material that is harder and more scratch-resistant.
  • Firmware and algorithms for advanced signal processing and noise filtering. The development of algorithms enhance touch detection accuracy and eliminate interference.
Infrared (IR) touch screen design view

Infrared touch screen assembly

  • Calibration mechanism. Some IR touch screens offer automatic calibration to compensate for environmental changes and ensure consistent performance. Other systems provide users calibration options to calibrate the touch screen according to their preferences. This factor can enhance overall user experience.
  • Temperature and environmental considerations. Choice of material and construction impact how the touch screen operates within specified temperature ranges and environmental conditions. The design of your touch screen needs to ensure reliable performance in various environments and adequate sealing to protect against dust and moisture, especially in outdoor or industrial applications.
  • Ease of maintenance. The application for your touch screen can benefit from 1) a modular design to facilitate easier maintenance and individual component replacement, and 2) the integration of diagnostic tools to simplify troubleshooting and maintenance procedures.

By meticulously evaluating these aspects, engineers can optimize the design and selection of components to create an infrared touch screen system that excels in terms of durability, accuracy, and overall performance for its specific applications. Regular testing and quality control measures during the manufacturing process are also essential to maintain consistent quality across production batches.

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. Please provide your information and we'll be in touch shortly.

or call 1-323-663-3971

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