What is a Touch Screen Overlay?

Understanding the widespread use of this technology.

Touch screen overlays seem to be everywhere – from display devices when paying for your coffee, to computer monitors, and even televisions. They are becoming an ubiquitous part of daily life, commonly used in a variety of applications, such as interactive kiosks, digital signage, point-of-sale systems, education, and collaborative work environments. If you are searching for the right touch screen manufacturer, you might be wondering if a touch screen overlay is even a viable option. Did you know that even in the absence of native touch support on your device, you can gain touch control capabilities by incorporating a touchscreen overlay? So, what are touchscreen overlays, exactly? 

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An Introduction to Touch screen Overlays 

A touch screen overlay refers to a piece of technology that can be added to a non-touch display, transforming it into a touch-sensitive interface. It is essentially a touch-sensitive layer that is placed over a regular display, enabling users to interact with the screen by touching it with their fingers or a stylus. 

However, this differs with the overlay layer of a touchscreen device. Touchscreens are originally designed with an existing overlay layer that is comprised of flexible plastic or glass that’s attached over the device’s surface. On the other hand, a touchscreen overlay is an independent technological accessory that is positioned on top of the surface of a displace device, providing it with touch control functionality.

Fundamentals of Touchscreen Overlays

A touchscreen overlay’s central purpose is to convert a display device, such as a human machine interface (HMI), with touchscreen technology. Some devices are already constructed with natural capability to support touch-based input; however, others may be designed without this support. Still, even if a display device does not have this sort of touch-based input technology, you might be able to add this quality with the installation of touchscreen overlay to allow for the user to control the device with touch commands.

Touchscreen overlays are designed with a transparent or translucent material that can detect and respond to touch inputs. There are various technologies used, including projected capacitive, resistive and infrared (IR), which is the most common. Infrared overlays utilize a grid of infrared beams to identify the point where a user interrupts the flow of light to determine the exact location of the touch command. Each technology has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, influencing factors such as accuracy, durability, and cost.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Touchscreen Overlays

The primary benefit of touchscreen overlays lies in their capacity to effortlessly introduce touchscreen capabilities to display devices that originally lack this feature. After installation, a user will be able to use touch commands to control the device.

Another important feature of touchscreen overlays is cost. They are relatively inexpensive, making them a common selection for businesses wanting to improve a large amount of display devices with touchscreen utility. This provides a more intuitive and engaging way for users to interact with digital content and applications by improving the interaction experience with a more sophisticated design. 

Conversely, a touchscreen doesn’t always offer the same level of precision, quality and responsiveness as devices with built-in support for touch-based input. In comparison, these overlays tend to be less accurate and exhibit slower response times than dedicated touchscreen devices.

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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.  

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