Touch screen technology is one of the most dramatic technological developments of the past few decades. Once the stuff of sci-fi movies and TV shows, it’s now commonplace for people to zip from one app or website to another, make a purchase, or even vote, with the touch of a finger or thumb on a screen. It’s such a huge innovation that it still feels new in some ways, but the technology has been around for decades. In fact, the first finger-driven touch screen was invented in 1965 by E.A. Johnson. Given that surprisingly lengthy history, it makes sense that the technology is changing every day, and that there are some real innovations on the horizon. Here are just a few areas that touch screen technology is about to expand into. Greater control and reliability A company called James Heal announced in mid-2016 that they were working on a rigorously tested touch screen system for textile laboratories that featured simple and clear navigation, and a homescreen that displays all the key information a user would need. The software is housed inside a damage-resistant and water-resistant cover glass display, and can be set to nine different languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hindi and Bengali

In its beta testing phase, the touch screen interface was used at five of the highest-profile and most demanding UK textile laboratories and, according to James Heal’s Design & Innovation team, performed “flawlessly.” Tabletop touch screens Last year, Sony’s R&D group, called FutureLab, created a projection-based technology that would allow any flat surface to become a touch screen. The concept is called “Interactive Tabletop,” and uses depth sensors and motion tracking to know when objects are placed on the table. The tabletop can respond to any finger press by tracking the direction of the user’s hand. Part of Sony’s intention for this technology is educational. It’s easy to imagine history books or novel pages being moved, animated or dragged to the side with the flick of a finger. Tactile sensation One interesting idea that’s sprung up in the wake of the smartphone is the idea of reproducing the feeling a user gets when typing on a keyboard within touch screen technology. Researchers are developing a system where physical keys can rise out of a phone’s touch screen and be “pressed” just like a real keyboard.

New areas of integration As touch screen technology becomes more and more commonplace, you can expect to start seeing in fully integrated into new areas like ATMs, point-of-sale terminals and the bar/restaurant industry. To some degree, especially with ATMs, touch screens are already in use, but over the coming years, you can expect to see keyboards disappear entirely from most of these terminals in favor of screen-only technology. Wearable technology With innovations such as the Apple Watch and Google Glass appearing at an ever-faster pace, the Teknowledge Software company predicts a continued growth in touch screen-friendly devices like the Fitbit and Microsoft Bend. In fact, they estimate that by 2020, wearable touch screens will be a $35 million a year market. Longevity It might not be an immediate development, but last summer, Dr. Andrew Morrison of touch-technology manufacturer Zytronic, wrote about a new touch screen material called graphene. Graphene, though still in the early stages of testing, consists of bonded carbon atoms in sheet form one atom thick and has extremely promising levels of strength, transparency and conductivity. There’s a potential delay in its use for touch screens, however, because it can also be used for water purification, batteries and solar cells, and these applications will probably take precedence. It’s not hard to imagine touch screens becoming even more a part of our everyday lives by the end of this decade, with the technology reaching beyond the smartphone-and-tablet worlds into businesses and services all over the world. It’s also not hard to imagine the next great touch screen innovator needing help to develop and produce their idea. Pivot International can help you create and manufacture your product for this rapidly-growing market.