Touch Screens

Touch Screen

Imagine a cardiac surgeon performing an intricate bypass surgery. In between, the surgeon needs to check on the laboratory test results of the patient. Assuming that the information is stored on a computer, the surgeon can access the information through a keyboard, or better still, through a mouse. But how much more convenient it would be if the surgeon could only touch the screen on the option that is required to display the information. A touch screen input interface does exactly this. Touch screens are normally used when information has to be accessed with minimum effort.

Two popular technologies exist for touch screens. In one, the screen is made sensitive to touch and the exact position is detected. In the other, the screen is lined with light emitting devices and photo-detectors. When the user's finger approaches the screen, the light beam is broken and is detected by the photo-detectors.

Touch screens are used in information-providing systems like the one explained above. It is also used in airline and railway reservation counters. The users indicate their current location and the destination by touching the screen (maybe on a map), and all the possible routes with timings and rates are displayed. These interfaces are also used in travel agencies to display the names and addresses of all hotels, restaurants, and other places of interest, at a desired destination. Touch screens are also used in stock exchanges.