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Aesthetics of Touch

30 March 2016

Humans are visual creatures. Like our counterparts in the animal kingdom when presented with a choice we’re almost always attracted to the most aesthetically pleasing option available …..

‘We wear clothing and jewellery. We buy the biggest, most beautiful houses we can afford. We decorate our homes with furniture, rugs, prints, and gardens. We drive finely designed brightly coloured automobiles, which we choose for their aesthetic appeal as much as their fuel efficiency.”  

Geoffrey Miller in the Mating Mind

And when it comes to touch technology we respond in precisely the same way…

The rise of tablets and smartphones have given consumers high expectations of how public use touchscreens should look and respond. They need to be just as fast, accurate and as attractive as their personal devices. However, in highly saturated public environments where 4K and ultra-bright displays are common place, interactive signage and touch responsive kiosks must be able to stand out amongst the crowd. Offering the most up to date technology in a visually appealing way to catch the eye of tech savvy consumers.

For designers this poses a problem. Not all touch screen technologies are the same, and not all manufactures are capable of customising touch screens to meet the exacting standards of users.

A quick review of touch technologies

IR Touch.

IR tech

Infra-red touch technology is based on light-beam interruption: light emitting diodes on one side of the sensor, and light detectors on the opposite side, create an optical grid across the screen. The touch point is recognised when an object interrupts the beam of light.

From an aesthetic point of view IR technology is not ideal. The light sensing technology must be manufactured into an unattractive bezels, making sleek modern designs impossible.







Resistive touch screens have a pliable front layer and a solid rear layer separated by insulating dots, the inside surface of each layer is coated with a transparent conductive coating.  Voltage applied to the layers produces a gradient across each layer. Pressing the flexible top sheet creates electrical contact between the resistive layers, essentially closing a switch in the circuit.

While resistive sensors offer an inexpensive choice for those needing a touchscreen solution, the technology offers little to-no options for customisations, or improvements to the appearance of the sensor. An additional disadvantage is that the flexible front layer is susceptible to damage, making the sensors unfit for unattended applications.




Surface Capacitive


Surface capacitive touch sensors operate by placing a transparent electrode layer on top of a glass panel. When finger touches the monitor screen, it reacts to the electrical capacity of the human body; some of the electrical charge is transferred from the screen to the user and the touch is registered. This decrease in capacitance is detected by sensors located at the four corners of the screen, allowing the controller to determine the touch point.

Designers choosing Surface capacitive sensors are extremely limited in the customisations and visual enhancements the technology can offer. Due to the construction of the sensors, custom printed borders or glass cut-outs are just not possible, and the sensors require cumbersome bezels, which can collect dirt and water, interfering with the performance of the sensor.



Projected Capacitive (Self-Capacitive type)


Zytronic’s single/dual touch capable, self-capacitive PCT™ projected capacitive touch technology works by accurately detecting and locating touch, sensing peak change in frequency. When a user touches the screen, capacitance occurs between the finger and the sensor grid, whereupon the sensor’s electromagnetic field is disrupted. The peak change in frequency is measured, and by determining which row and column is closest to this peak change in frequency, the position of the user’s touch can be very accurately determined.

From a design perspective PCT and its sister MPCT™ (multitouch capable, mutual-capacitive) technology offer the largest range of potential customisations, with the fast, accurate touch response that consumers have come to expect.


For example Zytronic can customise touch sensors in a number of ways to meet almost any design requirement:

Printed borders and logos can be implemented (in an extensive range of colours), adding an extra level of distinctiveness, and can tie in the touchscreen with existing customer branding.


Curved glass – Curved touch sensors can absorb the user in the digital environment, immersing them in the content and enhancing their experience.

Glass type, from standard finishes such as plain or anti-glare to specialised glass including state of the art anti-microbial, or eye-catching mirrored glass, all available with Zytronic’s additional customisation options.

Bezel-less function, PCT technology does not require bezels to conceal the workings of the technology, allowing Zytronic sensors to be manufactured with sleek and attractive machined edges. Zytronic can also offer more complex machined glass designs, for example, corner holes to allow mechanical mounting or slots to allow credit card/coin accepters and ticket/receipt printing peripherals to be mounted neatly behind the touchscreen.

04Mike Smith Photo

Example Case Studies

Kite GB (UK)

Fashionable Opticians Kite GB Enhance Customer Experience with Mirror Touch Screen Solution. A highly-responsive, aesthetic yet 42” durable mirror-finished multi touch unit has allowed retail customers to connect with friends and family whilst in store. Along with our integration partner Display Technology, Zytronic incorporated PCT touchscreen functionality into a reflective, toughened glass surface to create an attractive, touch-enabled point of sale unit for fashionable high-street opticians, Kite GB.

ZY415_unit in use_HRES

Key points:

Large format touch sensor (42”)

Attractive mirrored glass offering a multi-purpose unit

Dual touch functionality

Bezel-less allowing a sleek and attractive design.


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SpinTouch (USA)

This beautiful multitouch table utilises Zytronic’s latest Projected Capacitive Technology (MPCT™) and custom software from SpinTouch to provide an intuitive and enjoyable user experience. Zytronic, helped SpinTouch International and Rok Interactive bring to market the Mozayo, a 46”, multitouch table capable of detecting up to 40-touches that combines elegant design with carefully crafted ergonomics. With potential applications including trade shows, promotional events and novel retail experiences, the Mozayo is a striking and interactive method of sharing, creating or displaying information.


Key points: 

Large format touchscreen (46”)

Custom printed border

Multi touch functionality

Bezel-less allowing a sleek and attractive design.

Machined glass edges



Discover more


To find out more about Zytronic’s unique projected capacitive touch technologies and its unrivalled glass customisation capabilities, please contact us.