ATMs

When you needed cash back in prehistoric times (like 2010), you actually had to push buttons at the ATM. But today the transaction involves a gentler motion: Just a few light taps on a touch screen gets you those greenbacks.

Phones

IBM and BellSouth’s touch-sensitive Simon Personal Communicator was years ahead of its time when it debuted in 1993. It boasted paging, calling, calendar and email capabilities, but its insatiable appetite for data and a brief battery life doomed it.

Do you remember where you were on that January 2007 day when Apple brought touch-screen technology to the masses in the form of the iPhone? Today 107 million Americans swipe and tap away on smartphones.

Smartboards

Blackboards are so last century. The must-have tool in today’s classroom is a digital whiteboard, whose touch-sensitive screen allows teachers and students to interactively write and store information and search online—no erasers or chalk dust involved.

Wearable Accessories

What’s next for touch technology? Major tech brands are developing wearable products, such as Sony’s SmartWatch.

Airport Kiosks

Checking into a flight used to involve face time with airline personnel; now, it’s a DIY process involving a touch-screen kiosk and your credit card—and a shocking revelation about how much your luggage weighs.

Faucets

In 2008, Delta devised the first touch-sensitive faucet that allowed water to start and stop with a gentle tap of the hand, wrist or forearm. The industry applauded its control, convenience, cleanliness—and water conservation, too! This year, Touch2O® technology celebrates five terrifically touchy-feely years.

GPS

Originally developed for the military, GPS uses a navigation system of 24 orbiting satellites positioned in space by the U.S. Department of Defense. And since the 1990s, directionally challenged drivers everywhere have relied on this touch-screen device to get them from point A to point B.

Tablets

What started in 2010 with Apple’s iPad has grown to include Microsoft’s Surface and Google’s Nexus, among others. These devices are changing the way we do things, even watch TV. Roughly 41 percent of owners use their tablets as they’re watching the tube, which is why some call them the “second screen.”

The Magic of Touch Technology

This innovation has led to the creation and improvement of many gadgets—even, yes, faucets.

Brace yourself: The iPhone wasn’t the first product to feature touch technology. A touch-sensitive musical synthesizer from 1948 has that distinction. Since then, this innovative technology has led to the creation and improvement of many gadgets—even, yes, faucets.