0
\$\begingroup\$

I'm really curious to get an answer for this question. Since I don't know the functioning of a capacitive display and Google didn't help me on this issue, I landed here. :)


Are capacitive displays used in most modern phones capable of measuring relative fraction of the finger being touched? For example, if I touch the screen and then apply pressure gently, will the system be able to make out the increase in the surface area of contact?

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

A projected capacitance touch screen like the type in your phone is quite capable of creating a reasonably detailed map of the areas of the screen that are covered by your fingers. You could definitely use this to infer the amount of pressure being applied by looking at the contact patch size, and indeed this is apparently how Apple's Force Touch on the watch works (note, the Macbook's new trackpad has actual force sensors on each corner). However, you can probably imagine a lot of issues with making this work reliably, as everyone's fingers are different sizes, and you don't always touch the screen with the same part of your finger.

Another thing is that you can tune the sensitivity of a touch screen so that it can detect objects nearer or further away (which is how glove mode works on some phones) but then you lose the ability to differentiate the actual contact patch of a finger. It may be that Apple is using a sort of analog sensing system where they can infer the contact patch and the part of your finger that is slightly above the surface by actually measuring the amount of projected capacitance rather than just apply a threshold. Unfortunately you would not be able to do anything like this without your own hardware.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking: to implement this idea, the system could just have a look at the increase in the surface area, if it increases by a reasonable fraction then only the input would be considered. This could probably work because one would start applying pressure only after he touches the screen. First touch = presence of finger, and then increase in the area = pressure applied. :) thanks for the confirmation anyways. \$\endgroup\$ – Harshal Gajjar Jun 25 '15 at 8:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It is worth trying. I think you'll really just have to setup a test jig and measure a whole lot of presses to see whether you can get something to work. In theory it should work, but in a real product you need a high level of reliability or people get frustrated very quickly. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Jun 25 '15 at 10:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.