Friday, June 17, 2011

touch sensitive - pressure sensitive - heat or pen

Oooh look at my new precious - a shiny new device has arrived, but which kind of 'touch' is it?

Touchscreen - heat sensitive - Samsung Galaxy and Apple:

Promising a revolution in 'touch sensitivity', these devices work by detecting 'heat' from your finger.

Supposedly this allows for greater accuracy, but there are caveats.


Touchscreen - pressure sensitive - TomTom and Nokia N5800

Great for general use and most devices, however you probably will not be happy if you are a pinch zoomer*.


Also used by Nintendo DS gaming systems.


*pinch zoomers is just my way of labeling folks who use portable devices, that make extensive use of touch gestures, rather than just point and press.


Stylus / Pen / Nintendo DS pen:

Touchscreens get dirty, touchscreens get greasy fingerprints

My father likes to keep his touchscreen pristine, and often prefers to use a plastic stylus, to press the selections on his SatNav.


Pros and cons - pressure sensitive versus heat sensitive:

Cleanliness and hygiene - students pay attention:

Fingers leave greasy, germ ridden prints on touch screens - try leaving your touchscreen uncleaned for a month and take a good look.

Put the bag of crisps down, before you go playing your phone / tablet, and wash the grease off before you go to 'touching'

Grease, the sort of cooking oil you find in crisps and fried snacks, is probably an ideal medium, for germs to stick to a contact surface ( keyboard / touchscreen ).

Pressure sensitive:
  • Can (generally) use a wider range of screen protectors*
  • Allow the use of pens / stylus**
  • If you are in a hurry to answer the phone, you can probably get by without taking your glove off.
  • Can be thrown off by particles and grit, that might gather, where the screen and bezel meet.
Heat sensitive:
  • Only very thin screen protectors are advised, so as to not block heat transmission
  • Older folks might find the screen less accurate / responsive.
  • Generally a little dirtier - as you are pretty much discouraged from using an inanimate object, rather than your finger to do the 'touching'
  • Where the screen is particularly crowded, might increase the chance of a correct selection (folks with ideal circulation)

As you get older your circulation reduces very gradually.
Extremities are usually worst affected, and that means fingers and toes. Any reduction in heat in the fingertips, will affect the ability of a heat sensitive touchscreen to respond correctly.


*screen protectors can be slightly thicker if your touchscreen is working on pressure.

**anything roughly pen shaped and non-sharp will do really, and quite often I'll use the wrong end of a biro.

Using the ink end of a biro or ink pen nib on a touchscreen is a bad idea, however the blunt non-writing end is sometimes okay.

Earlier I mentioned students ... in communal IT suites and learning resources, there are often free access computers. The keyboards (and no doubt soon touchscreens) have been used by johnny random and jillian surly.

Do johnny and jillian wash their hands in the toilet, or are they head in the clouds type, too lazy to bother, or too distracted to remember.

Well the next thing was that they used the keyboard on free access computer 1, right before you did.

( Unless you work in a University that is extremely vigilant about hygiene, those germs will be on that keyboard all week, or maybe the hands of the next user. )

You just got your brand new 10 inch Internet tablet, and want to show it off.

Is there someone in your group, that you are pretty certain never washes their hands on leaving the toilet? Do you pass them your tablet to play with?


Notes and Further Reading:

There is in fact a stylus / pen solution for some heat sensitive screens - seems fairly new. Quoting from the marketing:

Nothing is less convenient than taking a GLOVE off just to answer your phone or check a text message. With the blah blah, you won't need to.
The purpose of such a pen is...

to simulate the touch of a finger on the Multi-Touch display.

Here is a question on a forum, that might be related to the circulation in older folks issue I mentioned earlier:

Forum Poster: My parents find it difficult to type on the iPhone but otherwise think it's ideal.

Is there a special pen or pointer available to help them select the keys more accurately on the touch keyboard?

Here is some marketing blurb from Samsung about the special pen you can buy to use with their tablets:
The conductive tip of this stylus simulates a finger touch, tap or swipe to provide a full touch screen environment without leaving a single fingerprint behind.
I am guessing the Samsung pen will work on the Motorolla Xoom and iPad2 also, but try it instore before you buy.

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