Touch Screens: from Table Service to Wayfinding

With everyone nowadays seemingly addicted to smartphones and tablets, Touch Screens have seen a big increase in use in commercial applications. The lingering question though for businesses is what is the best way to use a Touch Screen? This cannot be the best way for the business but for customers and users of the Touch Screens too.

One such sector that has embraced Touch Screen technology is the QSR sector. According to Thomas Fraser-Bacon from digital signage company Allsee Technologies Ltd “The largest fast food chain in the world ‘McDonalds’ has embraced using Touch Screen technology in a large majority of their restaurants, these Touch Screens can be used by customers in store to order their meals. This menu innovation cuts down on the labour costs of till staff (or allows them to be reallocated to the kitchen) while allowing multiple customers to order their meals at once. The whole processes efficiency has been improved for the business and more importantly the customers thanks to Touch Screens.”

Touch Screens are great at delivering information. Much better than traditional print signage can. With a person using a Touch Screen wanting to find their way around a shopping mall for example, a person using a Touch Screen can scout out the local environment of the mall and find their destination and the route without wasting time or fielding information that is not relevant to their needs. Users can personalise the experience to their needs and get the information they want.

A corporate environment is not the first place you would imagine to find a Touch Screen. More and more businesses however are starting to realise that is used correctly, the benefits of using Touch Screens in meetings are huge. Forget the old projector based touch whiteboards that you use to have in school. Interactive Touch Screens are where it is at for corporations. These special screens are not the same kind of commercial Touch Screens that you are going to find a McDonalds though. With specialised whiteboard software, meetings will never be the same. Not only can you make notes from meetings on screen but you can show images/videos/documents and even webpages without the hassle of attaching devices via wires to a screen. Wireless mirroring and file sharing features of Interactive Touch Displays promotes the idea of interactivity by all participants within meetings.

It is not all however ‘How you use a Touch Screen’ that you need to think about. The kind of Touch Screen technology the screen has will inform how it is used. For the commercial market there are only two kinds of technology, Infrared and PCAP.  PCAP is the newer of the two and is the same technology used in smartphones and tablets. It works by fixing a sensor grid between a front cover layer of glass and the LCD panels. When a finger touches the glass, a touch is recorded. Infrared works by embedding LED sensors into the bezel of a monitor. These sensors beam across the surface of the screen to the other side and form an invisible grid, when this grid is broken by a finger, a touch is recorded.  Not only is there a cost difference between the two (Infrared is often seen as the more cost effective solution) but because of their different appearances they are used in different ways. We have found that PCAP Touch Screens are more suitable for restaurants/hospitals because of the tempered edge to edge glass front that can be wiped down and cleaned more easily.

So we have found that there are lots of different ways to use a Touch Screen in a commercial environment. From using a Touch Screen to help sell your products while improving the efficiency of your business, to using a Touch Screen to help inform users of information such as those in wayfinding applications. Touch Screens can also be used themselves to collect meetings like the Interactive Touch Displays. Whatever you choose to do with your Touch Screen, selecting the right Touch Screen technology can affect how you use it too.

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