Infrared vs Capacitive Touch Screen: What You Need To Know

Compare capacitive and infrared touch screens in terms of sensitivity, durability, and applications. Discover which type fits your specific needs.
Capacitive Touch Screen

Capacitive touch screens work by detecting touch through the properties of the body while infrared touch screens use infrared sensors, for touch detection.

Capacitive screens are known for their high touch sensitivity and are commonly seen in smartphones and tablets.

On the other hand, infrared touch screens are more robust and suitable for environments.

Both types vary in terms of cost, lifespan, and applications which we will delve into further in this blog post. 

Let’s dive in.

What is a capacitive touch screen?

A capacitive touch screen is a display that detects touch inputs based on the characteristics of the human body.

It comprises a panel made of glass or transparent plastic with a layer, on top. When touched a small electrical charge is transferred to the user altering capacitance at that spot.

Sensors positioned at the screen corners detect this change in capacitance enabling the system to pinpoint the location of the touch.

What is an infrared touch screen?

A touch screen also referred to as an IR touch screen employs an array of LEDs and photodetectors to register touch inputs.

Touch screens usually have a frame, around the display with LEDs on one side and photodetectors on the side. 

When someone touches the screen, it disrupts the light beams prompting the sensors to determine where the touch occurred based on how the interruption pattern looks.

What is the capacitive touch screen working principle?

Touch screens function based on capacitance which is how well an object can store an electrical charge. 

When a finger or something conductive touches the screen, it changes the field slightly affecting capacitance at that spot. 

The touch screen controller detects this capacitance change figures out where the touch happened and then sends that input to the device’s software for processing.

Capacitive touch screen not working: Important troubleshooting steps

Step 1: Inspect for Physical Damage

Check if there are any cracks scratches or damage that could affect how well it works.

Step 2: Keep It Clean

Dirt, grease, or moisture might mess with how responsive it is to touch. Use a cloth or mild cleaner to clean it.

Step 3: Calibration

Sometimes, recalibrating may be needed to make sure its responsiveness is back on track. Look into calibration options, in your device settings.

Step 4: Keep Your Drivers Updated

Make sure your drivers are updated to avoid any touch screen troubles caused by drivers.

Step 5: Test or Restart the Device

Give your device a reboot when facing software glitches or temporary issues with the touch screen.

How does an infrared touch screen work?

Touch Screen

Infrared touch screens work by using an array of LEDs and photodetectors to recognize touch inputs.

These LEDs emit light over the screen creating a grid pattern. 

When someone touches the screen it disrupts the light beams forming a shadow within the grid. 

The photodetectors identify this pattern of interruption. Determine the touch location based on where the shadow appears.

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: Material

Capacitive Touch Screen: Typically made with a glass or see-through panel layered with a capacitive coating.

Infrared Touch Screen: Comprises an array of LEDs and photodetectors enclosed in a frame around the display.

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: Touch sensitivity

Capacitive Touch Screen: Provides excellent touch sensitivity and responsiveness of detecting gentle touches or gestures.

Infrared Touch Screen: Also delivers touch sensitivity accurately recognizing touch inputs, over the screen surface.

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: Applications

When comparing capacitive touch screens and infrared options in terms of applications, the former is commonly seen in smartphones, tablets, ATMs, kiosks, and various consumer electronics that require touch input. 

On the other hand, infrared touch screens are more suitable for applications that demand durability and resistance to factors like outdoor kiosks, industrial control panels, and interactive digital signage.

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: Cost

In terms of cost comparison between capacitive touch screens and infrared ones, the former is generally pricier due to its manufacturing process and high touch sensitivity. 

Conversely, infrared touch screens are typically more budget-friendly than screens making them a cost-effective choice for applications.

How much does a capacitive touch screen cost?

The pricing of a capacitive touch screen can vary based on factors such as size, resolution, and brand. 

Smaller screens for consumer devices can range from $10 to $50 while larger industrial-grade screens may cost a hundred dollars or more. 

How much does an infrared touch screen cost?

Infrared touch screens are usually more affordable than ones. 

Prices for touch screens can start at around $20 for panels and go up to a few hundred dollars for larger sizes or specialized applications.

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: Lifespan

In general, capacitive touch screens tend to last than infrared touch screens because they are more resistant, to damage from physical interactions.

Regarding infrared touch screens, they might deteriorate over time due to being exposed to elements like dust, moisture, and changes in temperature.

Capacitive vs Infrared Touch Screen Advantages and Disadvantages

Capacitive Touch Screen Advantages

  •  Offers high touch sensitivity and responsiveness
  •  Supports multi touch gestures
  •  Features a durable and scratch resistant surface

Capacitive Touch Screen Disadvantages

  •  Generally more costly compared to other touch screen technologies
  •  Vulnerable to interference from moisture or conductive materials

Infrared Touch Screen Advantages

  •  Known for excellent durability and resistance, to physical damage
  •  Compatible with gloved hands or stylus input
  •  Cost-effective choice for specific applications

Infrared Touch Screen Disadvantages

  •  Lower touch sensitivity when compared to capacitive touch screens
  •  Prone to environmental factors such as dust accumulation and temperature fluctuations

Summary Comparison Table

AspectCapacitive Touch ScreenInfrared Touch Screen
MaterialGlass/plastic panel with a capacitive layerFrame with infrared LEDs and photodetectors 
Touch SensitivityHighGood
ApplicationsConsumer electronics, kiosks, ATMsOutdoor kiosks, industrial control panels 
CostTypically HigherUsually Lower
AdvantagesHigh touch sensitivity, multi-touch supportDurability, usually works with gloves on 
DisadvantagesExpensive, more prone to interferenceLower touch sensitivity 

Capacitive Touch Screen vs Infrared: FAQs


  • 1. What is an example of a capacitive screen?

    A capacitive touch screen, like the one found in smartphones and tablets, lets users interact with the device through touch gestures.

  • 2. Are smartphone screens capacitive?

    Yes, typically smartphone screens use touch technology that allows users to navigate menus, type messages, and perform functions, by simply touching the screen with their fingers.

Key Takeaway

Although both capacitive and infrared touch screens have their strengths, they are suitable for different uses.

Choosing between them depends on factors, such as touch sensitivity, durability, cost, and specific application requirements. 

It’s important to understand the distinctions and capabilities of each technology when deciding on the touch screen solution for an application.


More Posts

Send Us A Message