The proliferation of connected devices, especially the Internet of Things, was spurred by access to cheap parts. Anyone can now affordably slap a chip, accelerometer, gyroscope, and 3D-printed shell together to build something smart. But they still face one major challenge: how to give users control of their brand-new thing. Some manufacturers opt for a smartphone app; others build a touchscreen control panel right into their gadget. The touchscreen is easy, affordable, and involves no user learning curve. But still, the touchscreen presents its own problems.

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