Last month, we ran our first ETG Social Media Contest! Our winner was Brittany, with a tweet about tablet touch screens acting up. Below we’ve described the three most common reasons why touchscreens do what they do.

For those of us who have been around in the tech field a while, we remember the old days of the first time you turn on a new touchscreen device, it immediately asks you to calibrate it.

The newer devices such as Android and iOS tablets, phones, and music devices actually don’t ask you to calibrate anymore! They seemingly come pre-calibrated – awesome!

But… what happens when your touchscreen doesn’t seem to be working correctly? Read on to find out.
Back in the day, touchscreen devices used pressure sensitive methods of detecting where you were touching the screen. Thus, a calibration was required in order to accurately detect which part of the screen you were touching, due to differences in pressure. Some of the less-expensive, traditional touchscreen laptops still require this, and have a touchscreen calibration wizard located in the Control Panel on Windows-based machines.

However, most modern devices use a type of biometric technology to detect where your finger or stylus is on the screen. Instead of measuring pressure, this actually senses electrical contact with your skin, thus cannot be calibrated – because there is nothing to calibrate! It either senses the electrical impulses contact with your skin provides, or it doesn’t.

So why do modern touchscreens sometimes act up or react unpredictably?

There are a few main reasons this could happen:

1.)   Dirty Touchscreen. You know how after a while it gets all full of fingerprints, dust, and other yucky stuff? Yeah. That can mess up the device from accurately sensing the biometric signal, because those fingerprints can transmit it and scatter it as well.

Fix: Clean the screen. Seems pretty easy! Just, uh… don’t use window cleaner and a paper towel on it. (Or throw it in the dishwasher, for that matter.) There are plenty of products out there designed for cleaning touchscreens, but honestly – a clean, soft cloth will do.

2.)   Software Issue. Sometimes you may install an app that might cause a conflict in the OS, the memory buffer gets full, or any of a dozen other reasons that Operating Systems throw errors.

Fix: Reboot the device. In 90% of cases, this will fix the problem, as it cleans the OS cache and reboots the system. We do this so rarely on modern devices that a lot of people don’t realize that their device may have been online and running for a year or more. (And while it’s rebooting, take a moment to clean the touchscreen!). If this doesn’t work, and the touchscreen problem started after installing a particular app – you may want to try uninstalling that app to see if maybe it is causing an incompatibility in your system. If you are unsure of how to restart your device (as we all know, some of them are very non-intuitive), look at the instruction booklet or manufacturer’s documentation.

3.)   Hardware Issue. This is the least likely reason – but also the hardest to deal with, because there really isn’t anything you can do unless you know a guy who knows a guy.

Fix: Get on the phone – just not the one having the problem. Sadly, in this case you’ll need to revert to contacting tech support for the manufacturer of your device, or if you have a service contract through your mobile provider, they can assist as well.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

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