Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Multi-touch, in a computing context, is an interface technology that enables input through pressure and gestures on multiple points on the surface of a device.  Although most commonly used with touch screens on handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablets, multi-touch has been adapted for other surfaces as well, including touch pads and mice, whiteboards, tables and walls.   

Gestures for multi-touch interfaces are often selected to be similar to real-life movements, so that the actions are intuitive and easily learned. (See: natural user interface)

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Examples of multi-touch include:

  • Typing on a software keyboard as on a hardware one, with keyboard shortcuts, capitalization and other elements that require multiple key presses simultaneously.
  • Bringing fingers together in a pinching movement on an image to zoom out or opening them from a pinched position to zoom in.
  • Holding fingers apart and moving them in a clockwise motion to rotate an image in that direction.
  • Reshaping an object in a touch screen display as you would a real-life object. 
  • Flicking a finger on the corner of a display to turn a page in an e-Reader.

Here’s a very basic explanation of how the iPhone’s multi-touch screen works:

Capacitors in the external layer are identified according to their coordinates. When touched by a finger, each capacitor sends a signal to the processor. Interpretive software takes the raw data and  calculates the  location, size and shape or pattern of any touches on the screen. A gesture recognition program takes that data and uses it in conjunction with information about the application the user was running to match the touch information to a particular gesture. If a match is found, the result is relayed to the application as a command; if no match is found, the touch is considered to be unintentional and is ignored.  

This was last updated in November 2011

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I was looking for this kind of comprehensive information and finally got it. Multi touch software will change the world by its advanced feature. Thank you very much and keep sharing information.

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