Anyone who has tried to use a multi-touch touchscreen with anything other than their bare skin will know that it’s just not possible, no matter how hard you press. That’s because the capacitance technology used for the bulk of multi-touch devices doesn’t detect pressure, but measures the changes in electrical resistance caused by contact with a conductor – in this case, the human body. That might be annoying in cold climates, but is an even bigger problem in situations that require the wearing of protective gloves. Getac’s line of rugged Tablet PCs will be the first commercially-available rugged computers to solve this problem by offering a multi-touch screen that works with or without gloves.
The multi-touch technology found in Getac’s new Tablet PCs is based on resistive touch technology and not the capacitance technology usually employed in multi-touch capable devices. Because resistive touch technology works with pressure, the screens will respond to touch from just about anything, including gloved fingers. This makes it ideal for Getac’s primary market of industrial and field professionals who may work with dangerous chemicals or perform their job outdoors.
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"Our customers work in some of the most extreme environments and weather conditions where touch screen technology and flick gestures are faster, safer, and more convenient than using a keypad," says Getac president, Jim Rimay.
Users of Getac's multi-touch technology will be able to move and edit documents, rotate maps and photos, zoom in and out of maintenance manuals, and navigate system applications by using their fingers. The company claims that, even with gloves, the sensitivity of and accuracy of its resistive multi-touch screen is extremely high. The screen features 2048 x 2028 resolution, 100 points per second report rate, and less than 35ms response time. One limitation of the technology at the moment is that it only supports two-point multi-touch, compared to capacitive multi-touch technology supports up to full 10 finger independent recognition. However, it will offer complete compatibility with Windows 7.
Getac will make the multi-touch technology available on its line of rugged computers, but expect to pay a premium as the technology is considered high-end at the moment. For that reason, Getac is initially targeting the new technology at the defense and corporate sectors only.