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Touchscreen
All touchscreens, regardless of the "technology", operate on the same principle as a mouse. They're nothing more than a pointing device in which the cursor is controlled by the operator’s finger or some other form of stylus. The cursor will then appear where the operator places his or her finger and can be dragged around the screen the same as a mouse would do. The touchscreen is self-calibrating to a given monitor size such that the initial set up takes less than five minutes. The operation is the same as with a mouse: click and drag, double clicks, etc. Via the set-up, it can be designed to "activate" upon touch or release of touch. All touchscreens are supplied with the necessary software drivers and interface cabling to work with most computer systems. The "interface" to the computer is via an available serial port.

A common misconception is that by adopting a touchscreen interface, you "give up" the mouse. This is not true. A touchscreen and a mouse / joystick / trackball can be connected to the same computer. Both can be used, just not at the exact same moment.
How It Works
Which Technology is Best?
Once the decision to use a touchscreen has been made the next decision is which touchscreen technology is best. This can easily be determined by looking at the application, where the touchscreen will be used and the environment it will be operating in. There are four basic touchscreen technologies that are generally used: Resistive, Infrared, Capacitive and Surface Acoustical Wave (SAW). They all have their pros and cons as outlined below. Capacitive for example cannot be used with gloves but can be washed down whereas Infrared can be used with gloves but has some limitations in wet environments.

Some newer technologies, that hold promise are NFI (Near Field Imaging) and ThruGlass Capacitive. These are basically improved capacitive touchscreens with safety glass overlays that can be used with "gloved" hands. They provide a more robust interface for applications that involve more severe use.