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How Touch Screens Changed Consumer Electronics

The latest smartphones and media tablets have already helped to evolve the user requirements for the human interface with computer-based devices -- people like to touch the screen. Now, notebook and all-in-one PCs will help drive total touch screen module revenue to nearly $16 billion in 2012, and almost double to $31.9 billion by 2018, according to the latest market study by NPD DisplaySearch.

Touch screens used in smaller consumer electronics devices -- such as smartphones and tablets -- will continue to grow as well. Tablets are the fastest growing application for touch technology, with 2011 shipments tripling to 79.6 million units.

NPD forecasts that more than 130 million touch screens will be shipped for tablets in 2012, and over 190 million in 2013. Revenues for touch screens in tablet PCs are expected to grow by more than $3 billion in 2013.

"Over the next few years, demand for thin, lightweight, and lower-cost touch devices will drive strong touch screen growth in display applications," noted Jennifer Colegrove, vice president of emerging display technologies at NPD DisplaySearch.

Touch penetration is forecast to increase dramatically in larger size (>10”) devices, such as convertible/hybrid notebook PCs. NPD believes that several Ultrabook PCs will adopt touch screens by the end of this year. In addition, Microsoft Windows 8 has touch functionality built-in to the OS.

Windows 8 is expected to accelerate touch screen adoption in PCs. NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that the touch screen penetration rate in notebook PCs will jump fourfold, from 2 percent in 2011 to approximately 8 percent in 2013.

Over the next few years, adoption by all-in-one PCs and automobile monitors are expected to be leading contributors to touch screen market growth. Touch technologies with high transmittance, low power consumption, multi-touch, or gesture recognition will benefit the most from these applications.

Projected capacitive growth has been high since being popularized by Apple in 2007. This technology became the leading touch solution in 2010, based upon revenue. Due to the pressure to reduce cost and materials, conventional add-on type projected capacitive touch is evolving in three directions: sensor-on-cover, on-cell, and in-cell.

Supply of sensor-on-cover (SOC) touch technology is evolving, with more than 20 suppliers in 2012. Shipments of SOC touch modules are expected to grow more than seven-fold from 2011 to 2013, and revenues are forecast to surpass $2.8 billion in 2013.

NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that SOC will surpass add-on type projected capacitive touch and become the leading touch technology in 2015, based upon revenue.

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