In search of truly touchless touchscreen interaction
Freetouch lets anyone interact with a touchscreen from the safety of their own smartphone.

The COVID-19 pandemic sent a lot of marketing managers into a tizzy, especially those relying on customer facing touchscreens. Darren David, who operates a San Francisco based interactive agency, remembers it well.

"When the pandemic hit, many of our clients started calling and said, 'What do we do with these touchscreens that were a core part of our customer experience and now they're a liability?'" the founder and CEO of Stimulant told Kiosk Marketplace in an interview. His company builds multi-touch interactive experiences for retail, corporate and museum clients.

"They were calling us asking for advice and solutions," he said.

The best advice he could offer on the spot was to turn off the touchscreens, an option that didn't bode well for his or their business.

When they came up short searching for a solution, David and his team didn't waste time. They developed their own. In October, the interactive specialists rolled out Freetouch, a solution that lets anyone interact with a touchscreen from the safety of their own smartphone.

Once they snap the QR code with their smartphone, the user can click, drag, scroll and perform multi-touch gestures to interact with the touchscreen without actually touching it. There is no app to download, no hardware to install and no registration required. The interactions are secure and anonymous.

"By offering an easy-to-install and easy-to-use software-only retrofit, we're enabling companies to remain open and their customers to interact safely during this challenging time," David said.

Customer response positive Customer response has been positive.

The Reagan Ranch Center, an interpretive center in Santa Barbara, California, which maintains President Reagan's "Western White House," installed Freetouch for its 3,500-square-foot gallery. The center features seven touchscreen-based interactives and hosts visitors from around the world.

"Freetouch allows us to retain all of the functionality of our exhibits," Brent Kilpper, associate director, said in a press release. "We have it up and running now on our five timeline exhibits and it's the perfect solution. It's very simple — you just use your cellphone and away you go. We're really pleased."

Electrosonic, a global audio-visual agency that builds tailored solutions for a variety of markets such as videoconferencing and control rooms, museums and theme parks, also praised the solution.

"It helps reinforce relationships with existing clients because we can keep their interactive displays running, preserving the value of their investment," Chris Conte, vice president of new business development for Electrosonic, said in a press release. "It's also cost-effective and simple to implement because it doesn't require additional hardware. The response we're getting from existing and new clients is overwhelmingly positive."

"When we reopen, visitors will come back with different feelings and more caution," said an early beta tester, John Beckman, director of exhibit design and production at Adler Planetarium in Chicago, in a press release.

"Freetouch gives us the opportunity to really not change anything we're doing in regard to the way our touchscreen displays work, while giving guests the option to interact with them using their cellphones if they wish to. It's logistically friendly and extremely low friction for us and for our guests as well."

New focus: high volume users While Freetouch initially focused on lower-volume customers, those with one to 100 displays, it soon realized the need extended to high-volume locations as well, David said. They are fielding inquiries from companies with as many as 50,000 screens.

Darren David recognizes the demand for touchless extends to users of any number of displays. These larger customers include the digital out-of-home market, wayfinding kiosks, self-checkout POS, healthcare locations, big box retailers, restaurants, ticketing kiosks and the financial transaction market such as ATMs.

"The biggest market for us now are folks who don't have a choice whether or not they can be open," David said.

The most important benefit in light of the pandemic is that Freetouch is 100% contactless and hardware-free, which cannot be said for other solutions such as gloves, hand sanitizers, styluses and gestural input retrofits, he added.

Freetouch is also waste-free, requires very little maintenance, is reliably available, easy to install, easy to use and enhances user accessibility to touchscreens.

Demand for contactless to continue Long-term, David believes a significant segment of the customer base will continue to be touch adverse. This is based on input from many Freetouch customers that believe consumer perception of touch interaction has changed.

"Most operators want to say we offer a touchless option for the touch adverse," David said.

Operators are also concerned about the uncertain litigation landscape associated with touchscreens, he added. A touchless option can provide some protection from such actions.

"In only six months the conversation has changed from reactive to proactive," he said.

It won't be long before users as a whole become accustomed to the benefits that remote management brings to touchscreen interaction.

For an update on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected convenience services,click here.

Images courtesy of Freetouch.

source : kioskmarketplace