Today, consumers expect nothing less than control at their fingertips. Sectors across the business sphere are taking the tech in new directions to differentiate themselves and enhance the customer experience.
The history of the touchscreen is a fascinating one. The modern capacitive versions of the technology can be traced back to the mid-1960’s and its beginnings in radar. It was the advent of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 which brought touchscreen into the mainstream, however, and people have embraced it as their preferred form of data engagement ever since.
A study from the University of British Columbia highlights why consumers enjoy the tactile element of touchscreens. They create an element of fun and influence the making of hedonic purchases. Hedonics are the opposite of utilitarian purchases like tissue paper or cleaning products; they give consumers pleasure and include things like buying new clothes, a burger, or a night at the movies.
The latest touchscreen trends are keeping pace with the tastes of modern consumers. And advances in technology promise more effective and competitive communication for businesses of every size.
The demographics driving touchscreen trends
The preferences of the latest generations of people always dictate the next trends in tech. Millennials have a marked preference for the self-service enabled by touchscreens, with almost half expecting more kiosks in retail stores to speed up the buying process. The majority of millennials bluntly state that they dislike interaction with store staff.
Gen Z, the youngest consumers, have similar preferences and will be the biggest buyers by 2020, accounting for as much as $143 billion in direct spending. Those kinds of numbers mean the marketplace will give their biggest audience what they want, and they’ll do this by trending toward more and more touchscreens across the retail sector.
Trends also usually mirror successful changes made by the biggest companies. For example, McDonald’s realized in 2018 that touchscreens were netting them more purchases than if consumers dealt with employees. They attributed the upturn in sales to extended customer dwell time on the screen, which is a typical result when using digital displays in various settings. This is driving McDonald’s to add digital touch kiosks to 1,000 stores every quarter over the next two years.
Trends in application and technology
Consumer demand for touchscreens will fuel the growth of the digital signage market and drive down prices in the coming years, making larger and more engaging screens a possibility for even the smallest business. New developments will include:
- Multi-touch technology – Many of the touchscreens currently in use can recognize input from only one touch point at a time. Multi-touch, however, will enable users to activate different parts of a display simultaneously from two or more contact points. Multiple processes by multiple users greatly improves the speed of customer transactions. The tech has been around for over a decade on mobile devices, and it is now set to become common on larger-scale, retail digital displays.
- From landscape to portrait – You may have noticed that many in-store digital displays are becoming vertically aligned rather than being horizontal/wide aspect. Screens will continue to trend toward an upright presentation to mirror the appearance of a giant mobile device. Consumers are used to browsing and buying vertically on their smart phones, so more digital signs will duplicate that visual/tactile experience on a larger scale.
- Touch without touch – Standard touchscreens are classed as “capacitive,” which means they require direct contact from a pressure point. This can be detrimental to the screen’s visual appearance and overall performance, so today’s displays are trending toward projected capacitance. Projected capacitance screens offer superior optical clarity and do not require direct touch contact in order to receive information. A user’s finger only needs to be close enough for the display to register it and execute the command.
- Resistive screens – Projective capacitance is one way of handling the wear and tear caused by thousands of pushing fingers, but there are other ways screens are getting tougher. Resistive touchscreens have greater resistance to water and screen debris, making them perfect for outdoor displays as well as the physical demands of high-traffic indoor areas.
- Force-sensitive screens – While projected capacitance screens are trending, there is still demand for very large capacitive screens. There is debate as to how much they will impact the market and how big they can get, however. The application of finger force works well on small screens like a phone or tablet, but it doesn’t scale so well to some of the much bigger, thicker screens in public spaces.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin have made impressive advances in force-sensitivity and claim their tech can easily be scaled up to large surface areas with latency of less than one millisecond. Widespread adoption of very large force-sensitive screens would allow users more interactive options such as zooming in on a large Wayfinder map.
Interactive touch is here to stay. The tech is advancing, and it offers endless communication possibilities for businesses. Zero-In makes that connection possible with customizable technology that provides the experience your customer is looking for.
At Zero-In, we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.