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Touch-less technology: Now is the time!

March 24, 2020

Time to shift towards hygiene friendly technologies

The current pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is forcing us to rethink how we should be interacting with devices that we regularly use in public spaces. Multiple studies demonstrate that the virus can remain active on hard surfaces for many hours. The longevity of this virus is such that it makes us question the risks of using touchscreen technology in public spaces.

Public touchscreens are found nearly everywhere, they're used in information kiosks, grocery self-checkout stands, airline counter check-ins, train & subway ticketing machines, bank ATMs, vending machines and many more. They are in fact part of the public space as we know it.

Another public touchscreen example, and one of the most rapidly growing, is usage in fast food restaurants where they allow customers to quickly buy their meal whilst skipping long queues. They can save the customer precious time, but now at the cost of an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases. For instance, a microbiologist at London Metropolitan University demonstrated in this investigation that both gut and fecal bacteria can be found on the surface of those touchscreens, some presenting potentially serious health threats.

Preventive measures can be taken to minimize the infectious property of touchscreens in public space, such as regular cleaning and providing hand sanitizer right next to it. However, these efforts can only help to minimize and not eliminate the surface risk. Furthermore, they result in higher maintenance costs and slower customer throughput.

The world as we know it needs to adapt

Unfortunately for self-checkouts, kiosks and other displays with which millions of people interact on a daily basis the paradigm is still touchscreens. And in today's new world that has to change. We need a new paradigm for machine interaction, one which is still easy to use and at the same time safe. It must maintain hygiene and reduce surface infection risk thus helping prevent future pandemics. Companies need to incorporate touchless technology immediately, retrofitting the existing touchscreens.

This concept is not new; one well known example of a hygiene friendly technology is the touchless faucets in public restrooms. Those faucets are equipped with a sensor which controls the water by detecting the presence of hands underneath the faucet.

For use in public spaces, Gestoos has developed an AI technology that emulates a touchscreen experience but that eliminates the surface infection risk contributing to public health. It utilizes cameras and sensors to detect and understand hands & fingers, enabling a virtual "air" click. The technology is robust for anyone to use, requires minimum set up and is already live in multiple locations worldwide.

Gestoos: Pioneer for Touchless Solutions

One success story of Gestoos as a touchless solution in a public space is the video wall at the Football Club Barcelona (FCB) museum. Using depth sensors, this installation can track the position of 8 users simultaneously and provides a touchless interactive experience while allowing them to navigate across a large number of archived videos. Simulating a touch interface, the solution can track the position of the hand with high accuracy and trigger a click event without having to touch the screen. The wall has handled 6.5 million interactions over the last 5 years without needing any software maintenance.

As the usage of "air" gestures will be more and more culturally integrated into our daily life, their usage in public spaces will naturally follow. With the current pandemic, we already see a high demand for hygiene friendly technologies, but make no mistake, the best solution to really prevent touch is with Gestoos' Touchless A.I. technology.

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