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Windows 7 and capacitive vs. resistive screens

Moving away from mobile phones, Windows 7 must represent an exciting opportunity?

"Absolutely. The requirements with Windows 7 have been altered so {unlike XP and Vista} it works with capacitive screens and multi-touch technology which will bring public consciousness of touchscreens to another major platform. Certainly direct manipulation on a desktop or PC is a powerful user interface mechanism. Only time will tell if it can surpass more traditional input methods like mouse and keyboard however because they are so culturally ingrained."

Of those is supplanting the keyboard the most difficult? Banging a screen with your fingers is ok for short spells on a phone but I can't imagine it being a pleasant experience with your primary workload.

"Yes, touchscreen is currently optimal and efficient when it comes to portable devices and some challenges are trying to address tactility when touching onto that glass surface. Better haptics are going to be critical in devices as well as continued refinements in visual responses. The tech is out there, the key issue is to try and tie it all together in a seamless fashion. Clever integration from a hardware and software perspective."

And latency.

"Latency is a huge issue. A touchscreen doesn't provide its own feedback. We rely when touching a screen that the data communicated back is processed in a timely fashion. For example, our tests show after a delay of just 100 milliseconds the user doesn't associate {haptic} feedback with a touch event. Then they try to touch {the screen} a second time. That's the beginning of a frustrated user and it also queues up all different events which causes chaos."

You said the technology is out there. Can you explain this?

"The speed of capacitive touchscreens is exceptional. Up to 80 finger positions per second have been able to be recognized and reported pretty much since day one, that's more than host processors can handle - it's a lot more information than traditional mechanical devices can handle. The good news is that handset designers are really beginning to see consequences of not assigning finger data as high priority and the processors themselves are getting faster and faster. Then finally, the hardware designers are getting much more experienced with these technologies - there are some exciting chipsets being announced - it all works in lock step."

Let's hope so. Finally looking at the challenges ahead, Synpatics is a touchscreen manufacturer that uses solely capacitive technology. Why not make resistive screens as well?

"We could, but fundamentally resistive touchscreens are less adaptable. They are not designed to do multi-touch and capacitive is more durable and provides superior optical clarity. Certainly newer resistive technology has shown the ability to do these things and it will always have its place but it is a long way behind while capacitive is also evolving all the time. It's a real statement that the market seems to be embracing the difference between capacitive and resistive screens. It's not the complete story of experience but based on an individual's needs and where we are headed in the future it is a fundamentally important choice."


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