One of the many lessons to take from the coronavirus pandemic may be this: It is time to consider a touch-free future.
According to a consumer survey by Foolproof, a UK experience design firm, most people agree with that conclusion. In response to the survey, 80 percent of people said they would change their behavior regarding touch interfaces following the pandemic. Nearly half of consumers also said they would use contactless payment technology when available.
Contactless payment, though, is only one touch-free technology already in use.
Touch-Free Temperature Checks Are Becoming Part of the New Norm
To ensure customer and employee safety, many businesses require visitors to undergo a temperature check before entering the building. However, assigning employees to perform these temperature checks can be a safety issue itself. Further, human temperature takers can be overwhelmed by too much traffic and may fail to do the job accurately.
In response, some technology companies have produced touch-free temperature checking systems. To ensure compliance with the technology and to minimize their footprint, some of these solutions, like Protect98, are built into compact kiosks. There are numerous advantages to touch-free temperature taking kiosks, including:
Rapid, accurate testing
Touch-free thermometers measure the infrared energy emitting from a person, which makes for quick, highly accurate temperature taking. There is no human error to worry about, so people can get in the building quickly, but only if they are safe to do so.
Sophisticated face tracking
Current generation face tracking is extremely accurate, whether a mask is worn or not. A touch-free temperature kiosk can store tens of thousands of images for its face recognition database, so the system can track who enters the building and whether they pass or fail the check. Face tracking can also be used to detect if someone is wearing a mask or not.
Easy to use
Touch-free kiosks prompt visitors once they step in front of the device. The prompts are simple to understand and follow. They also use colors and sounds to indicate a pass or fail, so they are universally understandable.
Remote management and updating
Touch-free kiosks can be monitored and managed from a remote device, which can aid in proper social distancing. Regular updates, which can also be remotely pushed over, provide additional features and ensure tight security.
Touch-free temperature kiosks are a major development in public health and safety, but they likely represent the beginning of a push toward more touch-free technologies.
Technology Allows Users to Control Public Devices From Their Phones
Half of consumers indicate that they prefer contactless pay above all other options, if given the choice. Contactless interfacing is something that people want, and it’s already standard for many of the devices used in business and education. Some of those devices include:
These touchless interfaces are made possible with remote functionality, using an application that connects a personal device with a shared one. This is already familiar to many professionals, as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workplaces are becoming more common. According to a Microsoft study, 67 percent of office employees use their device for work-related tasks at work, and companies generate about $350 per employee every year when instituting a BYOD policy. It makes sense for employers and employees already, but the need for a touch-free work environment means safety is also in the mix.
Using a personal smartphone, tablet or laptop, employees can access AV and collaborative technologies, which eliminates the need for a shared touch interface. Educators can also benefit from this, as many classrooms are outfitted with interactive touch panels.
What Touch-Free Technology May Soon Look Like
It will be a while before touch-free interfaces are available in every situation, but there are a couple realistic possibilities already in the works. For example:
Eye and gaze tracking
Eye tracking technology is already used for gathering information in some settings, including scientific, marketing, and industrial environments. It is also a promising avenue of contactless interfaces, as it’s easy to design around the human eye. Eye tracking can detect what someone is looking at to a fine degree and note when someone is gazing at something. Eye tracking interfaces, then, could be as simple as listing choices on a screen and prompting the user to look at their preference.
Improved voice and visual interfaces
Personal voice assistants like Alexa are already in many homes, but voice recognition technology is also being refined for out-of-home devices that typically use touchscreens. Designers are also working on combining voice and visual interfaces so there is less confusion between human and device. Such an interface would visually prompt the user to respond with their voice, making for a more efficient exchange.
Touchscreens have been a part of our daily lives for decades, but they may not be as common as we move to a new touch-free norm. Touch interfaces were already giving way to face recognition, eye tracking and voice recognition technologies, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made them more of a necessity.
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