Touch Sensor Working and Its Appplications

The human body has five sense elements which are used to interact with our surroundings. Machines also need some sensing elements to interact with there surroundings. To make this possible sensor was invented. The invention of the first manmade sensor, thermostat, dates back to 1883. In 1940s infrared sensors were introduced. Today we have sensors that can sense motion, light, humidity, temperature, smoke, etc…Analog and digital both types of sensors are available today. Sensors have brought a revolutionary change in the size and cost of various control systems. One of such sensor which can detect touch is the Touch sensor.

What is a Touch Sensor?

Touch Sensors are the electronic sensors that can detect touch. They operate as a switch when touched. These sensors are used in lamps, touch screens of the mobile, etc… Touch sensors offer an intuitive user interface.

Touch Sensor
Touch Sensor

Touch sensors are also known as Tactile sensors. These are simple to design, low cost and are produced in large scale. With the advance in technology, these sensors are rapidly replacing the mechanical switches. Based on their functions there are two types of touch sensors- Capacitive sensor and Resistive sensor

Capacitive sensors work by measuring capacitance and are seen in portable devices. These are durable, robust and attractive with low cost. Resistive sensors don’t depend on any electrical properties for operation. These sensors work by measuring the pressure applied to their surface.

Working Principle of Touch Sensor

Touch sensors work similar to a switch. When they are subjected to touch, pressure or force they get activated and acts as a closed switch. When the pressure or contact is removed they act as an open switch.

Capacitive touch sensor contains two parallel conductors with an insulator between them. These conductors plates act as a capacitor with a capacitance value C0.


When these conductor plates come in contact with our fingers, our finger acts as a conductive object. Due to this, there will be an uncertain increase in the capacitance.

A capacitance measuring circuit continuously measures the capacitance C0 of the sensor. When this circuit detects a change in capacitance it generates a signal.

The resistive touch sensors calculate the pressure applied on the surface to sense the touch. These sensors contain two conductive films coated with indium tin oxide, which is a good conductor of electricity, separated by a very small distance.

Across the surface of the films, a constant voltage is applied. When pressure is applied to the top film, it touches the bottom film. This generates a voltage drop which is detected by a controller circuit and signal is generated thereby detecting the touch.


Capacitor sensors are easily available and are of very low cost. These sensors are highly used in mobile phones, iPods, automotive, small home appliances, etc… These are also used for measuring pressure, distance, etc… A drawback of these sensors is that they can give a false alarm.

Resistive touch sensors only work when sufficient pressure is applied. Hence, these sensors are not useful for detecting small contact or pressure. These are used in applications such as musical instruments, keypads, touch-pads, etc.. where a large amount of pressure is applied.


Some of the examples of touch sensors available in the market are TTP22301, TTP229, etc…

Which type of touch sensor proved useful and appropriate for your application?