Nowadays touch screens are associated with smart phones, computers, kiosks, and innovative modes of advertising. After all, there are very few of us who have not encountered smart phones, ATM’s, POS terminals, and way finding screens. But did you know that the first interactive screen was likely a military touch screen? Many historians attribute the first ever touch screen as the invention of one E. A. Johnson who worked for the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, UK between 1965 and 1967. It was based on capacitive touch technology, and was developed for use primarily on air traffic control. This site contains a short description of the history of touch screens.
Since that time many other types of touch technologies have been developed and utilized; and yes, they are everywhere. What common people like us don’t get to see firsthand is how these screens have been adapted for military use.
Forms Of Military Touch Screen
Since many military vehicles are equipped with radar, it is not a far stretch to say these are among the first uses of touch screens for military purposes. However, as more types of touch technologies are available at much more affordable prices, the use of touch screens have gained wider acceptance even in warfare.
There are lots of handheld devices and computers with touch technology which have found use in monitoring and coordinating the various units in battle. Surveillance drones, for example, can send video feeds through touch screens issued to ground forces. In some cases even satellite feeds can be viewed. And of course artillery, air support and naval support can do a much better job when they know where each other are.
If touch screens are able to provide considerable improvements to business presentations and training methods, the same improvements can be achieved when they are used for military training. Why use old military maps, when the same can be loaded onto an interactive screen which can also contain related data? Even in war colleges, a touch screen can be an instructor’s most able assistant.
Special Requirements For Military Touch Screens Used In The Field
Soldiers sometimes work in the most extreme conditions; battlefields can be very cold, or very hot, humid, wet, muddy, noisy and literally earth-shaking. It goes without saying that the equipment they carry into battle should be able to work under the same harsh conditions; that includes military touch screens grunts take with them.
To be able to survive those conditions, touch screens soldiers use in the field have to comply with quite a few military specifications. Screens have to be shatter resistant and tightly sealed to resist moisture and humidity. They should be able to demonstrate the ability to work in extreme temperatures, as well as resist dust intrusion. The touch screens should not be too sensitive to dirt and other surface contaminants, and many feature anti-glare technology, backlighting and limited viewing angle for privacy purposes.
When used in the field, opposing forces are expected to try to disrupt all forms of communication. This is why military touch screens’ components have shielding which protects them from EMI and RFI; they are also protected from signal jamming devices.