Touchscreens for public displays and kiosks have been popular for many years and the use of touch screens at point-of-sale has been increasing rapidly in recent years. However, following a year of Covid-19 many people have been looking for alternatives for public use interactive displays.
The following is a quick summary of the choices – I should note, typically these no-touch interactive technologies do not give the user the accuracy of a normal touch screen:
- Touch screens: These are intuitive to use and work well with suitably designed graphics. The technology choices include PCAP (Projected Capacitive), IR (Infra-Red), and resistive. I have seen touch screens in public locations with hand hygiene facilities nearby or someone cleaning the screen after each user.
- Near-field gesture: I wasn’t sure that this was a term being used but a quick web search showed Microchip use it for their enabling component (https://www.microchip.com/en-us/products/touch-and-gesture/solutions-for-3d-gestures#). There are various ways to implement near-field gesture interactivity, for example, TOF (Time-of-Flight) sensors, camera & tracking, PIR, near field radar, and also by extending the sensitivity of a PCAP touch screen, ie to get hover touch.
- Voice: Certainly the technologies for voice as a way of interacting with devices has improved very significantly as any user of Amazon or Apple devices can attest to, and for an interactive display with a limited target vocabulary as found with automated phone systems the accuracy can be very high too. Of course, there is the risk when using these in a public environment of background noise interfering with the reliability, and even voice-bombing (as with people photo-bombing).
- Personal device interactivity: This is where a user’s phone can be used as the interactive device for a public display. An interesting idea as it certainly means there is no requirement to touch the public display and it also brings the application to the user. A company implementing this is Freetouch, https://freetou.ch/.
Maybe I should have mentioned the neural chip but that is not ready for prime time just yet.