A touchscreen is a display which can detect the presence and location of a touch within the display area. The term generally refers to touch or contact to the display of the device by a finger or hand.

Touchscreens can also sense other passive objects, such as a stylus. However, if the object sensed is active, as with a light pen, the term touchscreen is generally not applicable.

The ability to interact directly with a display typically indicates the presence of a touchscreen.

Until the early 1980s, most consumer touchscreens could only sense one point of contact at a time, and few have had the capability to sense how hard one is touching. This is starting to change with the commercialisation of multi-touch technology.

The touchscreen has two main attributes. First, it enables one to interact with what is displayed directly on the screen, where it is displayed, rather than indirectly with a mouse or touchpad. Secondly, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device, again, such as a stylus that needs to be held in the hand. Such displays can be attached to computers or, as terminals, to networks.

They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices and mobile phones.

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