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Nov. 22, 2022

Projected capacitive (PCAP) and infrared (IR) are the two most common touch screen technologies. While you may not be able to tell the difference when using an interactive touch screen unless you know how to identify which is which, they are very different in construction and design. Below we'll break down the differences between the two so you can better understand why one may be better than the other, no matter what the purpose of buying or renting a touch system.



Projected Capacitive Touch Screens

PCAP touchscreen software is typically used on smartphones and tablets, but can also be used on larger screens. It works by using a conductive grid that recognizes changes in its electromagnetic field by the touch of a finger. Projected capacitive touch screen technologies do not require a bezel. They only detect the finger or stylus. PCAP displays are very accurate and can support up to 60 touch points.

How Does PCAP Work?

PCAP uses a conductive grid between the protective glass cover and the LCD panel. When a finger touches a panel with an electrostatic charge, it causes the electromagnetic field of the grid to change, which the display then recognizes as a touch point.

Capacitive touch is very accurate, and by recognizing up to 100 touch points, it allows more people to interact with the technology at the same time.

Advantages of PCAP

While IR is accurate, capacitive touch is more sensitive and accurate by comparison, allowing for better touch point detection and faster response times.
By forgoing the use of IR emitters and receivers, PCAPs do not require the large bezels of IR displays, giving them a slimmer, sleeker appearance.
The capacitive screen's glass cover is extremely durable and scratch-resistant, minimizing maintenance and repairs.

When is a PCAP best suited?
If cost is not an issue, then the power of PCAP makes it suitable for a variety of different operations.


Infrared Touch Screen

IR touch technology involves embedded infrared beam coverage from top to bottom and from side to side around the device bezel. When the invisible plane provided by the beam is broken by any object, the device registers a touch point. Because there are up to 40 touch points simultaneously, the IR touchscreen display is slightly less accurate than the PCAP display. That said, the IR display is still very accurate and can be used in a variety of settings. However, when used outdoors in bright sunlight, sunlight can sometimes interfere with the overlay's touch reception.

How Does IR Work?

IR uses a set of infrared light emitters and receivers that are hidden around the edge of the display using this technology. These emitters send infrared light across the display surface (above the glass) to the receivers to create an invisible grid.
When a finger, pen or other object touches the display surface, the receiver will detect an interruption in the received light. Due to the grid pattern, the display is then able to determine the position of the finger, pen or object on the surface and record it as a touch point.
While IR can recognize up to 40 touch points, many large interactive tablets using IR technology are currently configured to recognize up to 20 touch points. This allows multiple people to interact with the display at the same time.

When is IR Best Suited?

Infrared displays can provide state-of-the-art performance and incredible image display for businesses on a budget, as long as they are not placed outdoors. However, they lack water and liquid resistance, so we do not recommend installing them in areas where spills can occur, such as restaurants and kitchens.

Disadvantages of IR

Because infrared uses emitters and receivers along the edges of surfaces, displays always require wide, deep bezels to accommodate them. This often means they look slightly bulkier than other touch technologies.
Sunlight can interfere with infrared touch technology, so it is recommended that interactive flat panels be installed away from areas of direct sunlight to avoid interaction and tracking problems.


Are you interested in learning more about PCAP touchscreens for sale and how they can benefit you? Contact us today to secure an expert consultation!

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