Multi-touch screen

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Typical multi-touch gesture
IFA 2010 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin 18.JPG
Samsung Galaxy Tab with multi-touch screen
IFA 2010 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin 19.JPG
Completed finger spread gesture to zoom in on text

A multi-touch screen ( English touch  = touch; screen with multi-finger gesture recognition) is a special touch-sensitive surface for entering data with the help of gestures . The capacitive or optical touchscreen recognizes multiple touches at the same time , mostly with the fingers, which means that more operating methods can be used than with systems that can only detect a single point of contact at the same time.

Screen and multi-touch screen are usually combined and superimposed on one another. The user can then tap the elements displayed on the screen, move them or select several at the same time. Popular application examples include enlarging and rotating images by moving two fingers away from each other or rotating them around a common center.


Rotate with two fingers on a multi-touch screen

The technology on which u. a. based on Apple iPhone and Microsoft PixelSense , was developed as early as 1982. Even then, initial research on multi-touch devices was taking place at the University of Toronto and Bell Laboratories .

Further research on multi-touch devices began in the early 1990s. The leading institutes were the University of Toronto and Bell Laboratories.

Apple applied for a patent on the technology in 2004 and also tried to register the word multi-touch as a trademark , but this was rejected because the term was considered too general.

In 2005 the French company Jazzmutant launched the Lemur multimedia control device  - as one of the first multi-touch-capable products - for controlling mixing consoles in the professional audio and video sector.

2006, the researcher was Jeff Han of New York University by the demonstration of a multi-touch prototype at the TED conference known. The multi-touch its surface underlying FTIR principle ( English Frustrated Total Internal Reflection , German  Prevented internal total reflection ) has the advantage that such surfaces are inexpensive and scaleable to produce. A video of Hans' presentation was posted on the Internet a few months later and was widely used there. Han was also the first to market FTIR-based multi-touch devices, for which he founded Perceptive Pixel himself , which sold multi-touch walls to the CIA, among others.

Although already the market in the first half of 2007 Synaptics -Touchpads supported this input method (for example, Lenovo - ThinkPad T61 under GNU / Linux), it was only by the middle of 2007 introduced to the market Apple iPhone known to a wider public.


The Reactable synthesizer gained greater popularity in the music sector after the instrument was used prominently by the Icelandic singer Björk alongside the lemur on her last Volta world tour. The Reactable combines a multi-touch surface with the objectivity of a tangible user interface and makes electronic music understandable acoustically, visually and haptically.


  • Rainer Dorau: Emotional interaction design: gestures and facial expressions of interactive systems, Springer 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-03100-7
  • Thomas Schlegel: Multi-Touch: Interaction through touch,, ISBN 978-3642361128

Web links

Commons : Multi-touch screen  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Bill Buxton, Multi-Touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved , version of July 21, 2016
  2. Multipoint touchscreen . European Patent Office. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
  3. Apple Denied Trademark for Multi-Touch . MacRumors. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  4. Pascal Joguet: Lemur. Retrieved July 24, 2017 .
  5. FTIR principle of multi-touch surfaces