Appliances: Resistive versus Capacitive Touch Controls, Guest Post by Doug Rose

Drier showing part of dial, left, start button and capacitive touch panel at right.

It’s important to become aware that appliances now   have one of two types of control panel. If possible test any appliance before  you buy it because most manufacturers and dealers don’t know how this difference impacts visually impaired users.

Resistive touch flat panel controls are the familiar  ones. A resistive touch panel means that the surface resists and  you have to press  on the right spot to activate the control.  Exploring the surface with fingers doesn’t change anything.

The newer capacitive touch controls do not require you to use any pressure to activate the control. A capacitive touch panel senses your finger through electrical differences, and activates wherever your finger touches. No pressure is required! Perhaps you have met this on up-down callbuttons for elevators.

This may work fine for most people but what if you are marking a flat surface control panel with bump dots? You slide  your fingers around the touch pad to locate the bumps and each time you touch a cap acitive control you set off a new command. I accidentally put my oven into self-clean mode and the door locked!

People have tried various solutions to use bump markings on capacitive panels: One solution is to  cut out a cardboard template   so the holes in the template  allow only the bump dots to  be touched. This makes it less likely that controls will be activated while you explore the panel. My partial solution is to place a couple of bump dots next to the capacitive control panel where   the touch setting I want is near the edge. I can find the bump and usually move beyond it to activate the right control. But not all controls are near the edge of the panel!

Words in product descriptions that indicate Capacitive touch

“Electronic touch controls”

“Easy to clean”

“Precise glass touch controls” (Samsung)

“Precise touch sensors”


“Precision touch controls” (Kitchenaid)

“IQ touch” (Electrolux)

Here is a link if you want more details:

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