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There is no such thing as “Do Not Touch”

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Social interaction is the backbone of all culture, and today the culture of tech consumerism has demanded interaction not only between people, or between people and their PCs, but between everyone and nearly every object around us. There are many ways to control our lives, but touchscreens have become the prime method of electronic interaction between us. Whether we’re texting our friends and family, ordering fast food from a kiosk, or checking our checking account at an ATM, we’re probably interfacing with a touchscreen. And even though touchscreens are continuing to grow in their abilities and prevalence, there are actually a few ways in which they can directly create chaos in the control that we so crave.

One of the biggest protests against the symbiotic relationship between people and touch-enabled devices is the tendency for these devices to replace the person themselves. The disappearing presence of face-to-face interaction is easily noticed in restaurants, supermarkets and banking. Customers often believe it is faster or more convenient to interact via a computer interface than to face potential mistakes or social flubs. Meanwhile, employees in these situations are often faced with the uphill battle of wage cuts, the possibility of being subordinate to a machine, and even just flat out losing their jobs. The obvious other side to this is the cost cutting incurred by businesses. Automation allows companies to take more risks creatively and drive innovation, and can be seen as a cornerstone around many of the design decisions made in the store remodels we’ve seen among the retail and service sectors. Automation through touchscreen interaction is also a direct response to serve the customer’s wants and needs. And while forcing evolution in some industries, other industries are being born to thrive. Technology businesses like AGDisplays directly influence the conventions and abilities of touchscreens, and will continue to grow and innovate among a rapidly evolving technological world, offering unique, effective skills for growth, and diverse experience to encourage dynamic thinking and creative solutions.

An outdoor touchscreen can offer directions, access to law enforcement, and taxi rides, replacing the antiquated phone booth. (Image by http://www.friendlyway.ro)

A solution to another problematic social trend in touchscreen interaction might he harder to find. Our biology is directly influenced by the prevalence of touch-devices, as we smear our sticky fingers across the screen we share germs, bacteria and countless other bits of dirt, oils and skin flakes. Imagine the places where we use a communal touchscreen the most; a fast food line, checking into a doctor’s office, or a ticket counter at the airport; and it is easy to see the possibilities for pathogens to thrive, especially during cold and flu season. Often improper cleaning can lead to damages, so most of these devices are left uncleaned for the majority of the day. So, the onus for now lies on the user to protect their own health. There are, however solutions in the works to mitigate the dangers that could come from sharing touch devices. Antimicrobial films have begun to appear on screens, however they often distort the clarity of the display. Another possibility are screens made from materials that withstand harsher cleaning chemicals and more vigorous scrubbing. Finally, there are screens made of antimicrobial ions such as silver, which would theoretically cleanse themselves of bacteria through the process of oxidization, but these are still experimental and expensive. For now, a standard cleaning schedule with an electronic cleaning solution and/ or rubbing alcohol will do the best to fight the potential for a biological disaster.

Germs are an evolutionary pest capable of living nearly any surface. (Image by www.viralinfections.info)

Electronically, dangerous and potentially damaging computer viruses are also a problem with interactive touchscreens. While this is not a mechanical fault of the touchscreen itself, it important to consider this possibility when choosing an automated touch control. In most cases, having a system malfunction or become inoperable is just an inconvenience, but in some applications such as military or medical devices, losing control to an unknown hacker or having a virus disrupt activity could be a literal matter of life and death.This is why it is important to ensure quality software and networking security among your connected devices.

Finally, having an interactive touchscreen last and look good is important to its effectiveness. Users are much more likely to have performance related issues if the screen is cracked, or the colors and data are displayed incorrectly on the LCD. AGDisplays has found solutions to all of the major issues commonly found with touchscreen displays and can, through a process of ruggedization, help protect against things such as vandalism, sun damage, vibration, drops and temperature extremes, providing a useful tool for any environment.

Don’t let a broken touchscreen become a useless eyesore. (Image by http://www.ali.do)

Touchscreens occupy an unique space in our lives. Not only are they ubiquitous, but they are evolving. Nearly everyone will interact with a touchscreen today, and it’s becoming unusual and sometimes disappointing to see a LCD that isn’t touch capable. Our continued desire for control and connection will drive new and as-of-now unimagined uses for touchscreens. Whether or not we allow ourselves see the downsides to the social involvement of technology will depend wholly on our willingness to accept our increasingly augmented, integrated and progress driven world.

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