Military Touchscreen Challenges - Multi Touch Screen Technology
When it comes to military environments, one issue arises repeatedly; viewability. The need to have the maximum clarity and purest blacks is often a key demand. So how does this impact touchscreens? Well, most touchscreen technologies, aside from IR, require some sort of coating on the surface of the touch interface, or glass that can affect the degree of light transmission. Ah yes, you say, but military displays almost always need some sort of coating anyway, don’t they? Well yes, this is indeed often the case. However, the layers needed to make the touchscreen operate are typically thicker and less optically pure than the specialized filter lays used by the military. For example, the ITO layers used in PCAP touch components can reduce optical transmissibility by up to 30%. Touchscreens that use pure glass are the option to be considered when clarity is a high priority. These are typically traditional IR, and they present their own challenges.
Apart from optical considerations, there are other parameters that become key in military equipment. Depending on the operational environment, there can be EMI interference, ambient light issues and mechanical noise/vibration to be concerned about. Overall reliability is a big concern, of course. NVIS compatibility is often a factor too and can be very challenging when it comes to the newest versions of NVIS devices.
Capacitive and Projected Capacitive (PCAP) Touchscreens
Capacitive and Projected Capacitive (PCAP) touchscreens can address many of the reliability concerns, of course, and they are highly accurate and responsive to touch, requiring zero touch force. They are not susceptible to ambient light overload, and they are entirely solid-state and therefore less likely to suffer from mechanical shock and vibration issues. However, they rely heavily on electromechanical coatings, and so are subject to concerns relating to screen image clarity. A typical PCAP touchscreen, for example, is made up of a large array of indium tin oxide (ITO) conductors on multiple layers of glass or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic.
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