Touchscreen technology is used in the majority of modern devices we use today and has revolutionized nearly all industries where a human-machine interface exists. A capacitive touch display developed by Eric Johnson in 1965 is commonly regarded as history’s first.  It was not until the early 1980s however that the touchscreen became widely commercialized. The iPhone’s release in 2007 marked a major step in the widespread global popularization of touchscreens.

capacitative touchscreen

Applications In Military and Aerospace

When the first touchscreen was invented in 1965 by Johnson, it was intended to help air traffic controllers interact with their computers more efficiently. The introduction of touchscreens addressed issues with older technology, such as a higher risk of failure, as well as the large amount of space traditional control equipment requires, including many buttons, switches, and a mouse or keyboard. A touchscreen’s longer and more stable life eliminates the issue of loose connections and malfunctioning buttons in traditional equipment. Furthermore, touchscreens are more ruggedized than previous technologies to withstand harsh environmental conditions, including high temperatures, low temperatures, and humidity.

Touchscreens allow users to interact with displayed information enabling monitoring of equipment, navigation, and processing of data among other things. They can also facilitate the improvement of combat capabilities through simulation training. Common applications within military and aerospace settings are command and control systems, military vehicles, aircraft and ships, maintenance of military equipment, simulation training, and military medical equipment to name a few. 

Types of Touchscreens: Resistive, Capacitivative, Infrared 

Capacitive touch screens, the first to be invented, are the most common type of touchscreen used today. They are created by printing a thin layer of conductive metal on the underside of the display’s outer surface. An electrical charge is drawn when the screen is touched, becoming the functioning capacitor. Their advanced capabilities make them a modern and advanced touchscreen option, often found in smartphones, tablets, appliances, and monitors. The technology allows for touch gestures, responds to multiple touch points, and is durable with higher-contrast images. Due to the complexity of the manufacturing process, this technology is more expensive.

In the 1970’s, after the capacitive touch screen was invented, the first resistive touchscreen was developed. A resistive panel detects pressure on the top layer of the display and sends a signal to the circuit layer. Devices like these consist of two layers separated by a gap, activated by pressure when the layers are touched. Due to their pressure-sensitive nature, these devices can be operated with any input device, such as a gloved hand or a pen, and do not require a conductive item. Resistive devices can be more susceptible to damage and have poorer visibility in direct sunlight than a PCAP in the same arrangement. 

In Infrared Touchscreens, the touch functionality is achieved by a series of LED emitters and detectors installed within the touchscreen overlay. Detectors embedded in the touchscreen overlay detect interruptions from infrared beams generated by the infrared LEDs. When an object touches the surface, it blocks the beams, sending a signal to the processor to respond with an action. The advantages of IR touch screens include their vivid images as they do not obstruct the viewing area, multi-touch capability, and short response times. The performance of this technology can be affected by direct light, and its resolution may be lower than that of other types of touchscreens.

military touchscreen

Cevians Touchscreen Technologies 

A leader in touchscreens specifically engineered for defense and aerospace applications, Cevians offers a broad range of standard and custom touchscreen products. The high-performance touchscreens from Cevians are designed for harsh environments, are sunlight readable, and have a long lifecycle. With a wide operating temperature range of -40 to +80, our touchscreens are MIL-STD-810-approved for military ground and airborne applications.

Learn More About Cevian’s Touchscreens