Touchscreens are supposed to offer us the most direct finger-to-screen interaction with our devices, but have you ever noticed that it takes a split second for something to actually happen?
This lag is known as touchscreen latency, and it's enough to cause a disconnect of sorts for those who notice it. Microsoft's Applied Science Group is close to solving touchscreen latency with a touch device that reacts within a single-millisecond.
While you might think there is no lag at all with your latest touch device, if you pay close attention, you can perceive touchscreen latency when you are simply launching an app. Try using a painting app and you might notice that the line you're drawing always seems to be following your finger instead of flowing from it.
Touchscreen sensors need to perceive that they are actually being touched, as well as the size of the touch area (how much fingertip is touching the screen) and which direction you're moving your finger. Slower capacitive-touch sensors will always reduce how responsive our devices are, no matter what insanely fast refresh rate our screens have or if they have the latest quad-core processors.
According to the Microsoft Applied Science Group, touchscreen latency on current devices can be as bad as 100 milliseconds (one tenth of a second). Microsoft's slow-motion video shows a staggering difference between painting with more conventional touchscreens and the touchscreen with single-millisecond latency.
While we think this is all good (and slightly depressing if you just bought a new tablet or smartphone) as a demo, Microsoft does not say when or if the company will roll out its super-low-latency touchscreen in a real commercial device.