Interactive Touch Technology And Its Use In Information Kiosks

Everybody either has one, or has used one. No longer the stuff of science fiction movies, touch technology has transformed they was people interact with their hand held devices and computers. However it is not only used on personal devices, but also is now a common interface when using public services such ATM machines and interactive ticket booths. In this article we explain about different types of touch technology, optical, projected capacitive, and infrared, and the use of this technology in information kiosks.

The Technology

There are many types of touch screen technologies, in this article we discuss optical, projected capacitive, and infrared technology.

With optical touch you have image sensors placed around the edges of a display, and armed with infrared backlights, it can then distinguish two contact points at the same time. This allows users to use two finger interactions such as zoom and rotations. Optical touch is easy to use and normally provides an accurate and responsive experience for the user.

Projected Capacitive touch (PCT) is what is commonly used by your smart phone and tablets, or other mobile devices. Instead of a dual point there is a matrix of conductive materials layered within sheets of glass. The conductive grid creates an electrostatic field, and as explained in Wikipedia, “when a conductive object, such as a finger, comes into contact with a PCT panel, it distorts the local electrostatic field at that point. This is measurable as a change in capacitance. The capacitance can be changed and measured at every individual point on the grid (intersection)”.

With infrared screens there is a ‘frame’ surrounding the display, rather than an overlay on the surface like you have with PCT. There are infrared light-emitting diodes (LED) on one side of the frame and photo-detector pairs on the other side of the frame, these surround the screen and create a grid by crossing each other. These invisible light beams can detect any changes or ‘interruptions’ to the grid when touched. This is known as “light-beam interruption technology”. With infrared screens the sensors can detect the exact location of where you touch, whether by finger, glove, stylus or pen. Furthermore, unlike PCT screens, “infrared touch screens do not require any patterning on the glass which increases durability and optical clarity of the overall system” (source Wikipedia). These types of screens make and excellent choice for retail stores and information kiosks and are perfect for businesses who want top of the range interactive displays and digital signage.

Information kiosks

Multi touch kiosk displays are used in retail and commercial settings across the globe. These types of information kiosks house a computer terminal with custom made software. They allow the user to navigate their way around given information using touch technology, while preventing them from accessing the computer system. Modern information kiosks include Wi-Fi capabilities and 3G connectivity. They are also usually built with a protective face panel using Perspex or toughened glass.

The best commercial displays available are “all-in-one” integrated touch screen kiosks. All-in-one integration means the hardware (computer and content management system) is integrated into the display itself. To achieve this, the kiosk is purpose made with a built-in industrial high specification computer. This means there are no external devices needed such as cables, external computer or third party clip on components. These all-in-one screens are available with various configurations and operating systems e.g. windows, MAC, Linux or Android. They can also be built into any size display required, on or in any style case housing or pedestal.

As you can see, thanks to advances in technology information kiosks have been revolutionised. Retailers can now engage with their customers in a fun and informative ways, and businesses and governments can provide a free public service through the use of this technology. By using all-in-one integrated screens you too can change the way you interact with the world.