Thanks to a very good explanation by Mr. Ghosh, I found that a capacitive touchscreen measures the change in capacity, induced by contact with a conductive material, along a grid. I have two questions:

  1. If the capacitance is measured using a high-frequency signal, would it be possible to (indirectly) measure natural electrical signals (low frequency) from the body using the same system? I am interested in using mobile phones to measure these signals.
  2. Is the change in capacitance dependent on the local composition of the body part that touches the screen?

I've worked a few years in a company making touch controller ICs for large size Touch Panel. According to my knowledge of these product (world leader in their market segment), I can tell you that:

  1. there are high-pass filters in the data acquisition chain, that will prevent you to measure signals below 1~10 kHz.

  2. The touch sensors must be able to detect touch in many different conditions (size of the finger, temperature, humidity etc...). I think such sensors are not able to measure fine local variations of the body part, because these signals are much much lower than the inherent noise of the touch system.

Depending on the touch system solution, the data post processing may be different, and you solution may work on one type of touch panel, and not on another type.

I would be you I would search for specific sensors, and forget the touch panel.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your clear answer! I already feared they installed some kind of filter. Too bad. It would have been a great application of the average smartphone. \$\endgroup\$ – Iska May 8 '14 at 18:55

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