After almost 18 months of a global pandemic I’d suggest the bulk of the population – save for the puzzling people who insist it’s a hoax or that their freedoms are threatened – has a routine down for touching things and then seeking out some hand sanitizer.
We also know, broadly, that COVID is much more a respiratory threat than it is a threat of infection through touching things. Again, there is a percentage of people who disagree for any number of sound or batshit crazy reasons.
So I go into thoroughly ambivalent mode when I see pitches – as the pandemic wanes ( at least in G7 countries) – humping solutions that are all about emulating a touchscreen experiences that are done without that final centimeter touch.
The UK kiosk firm imageHOLDERS has launched what it calls its first touchless kiosk, using Ultraleap’s hand tracking camera and software to capture the movement of hands and fingers working in front of a screen, but not touching it.
This non-touch approach reduces the risk of spreading germs and bacteria build up at a self-service kiosk, the company asserts, something customers and end users have become increasingly aware of since the outbreak of Covid-19.
By using an Ultraleap camera module and Ultraleap software, the imageHOLDERS kiosk is both intuitive and easy to use. A selection of optional devices can also be added, including printers, scanners, and payment devices – to ensure each kiosk is tailored to individual business needs. Each kiosk can be tailored to number of different industries including public kiosks, entertainment complexes, healthcare, office and workplaces, and education.
“Our mission for this touchless kiosk was to instil confidence in the general population and in turn galvanize multiple industries to be able to get back to full strength in a post-Covid world,” says imageHOLDERS CEO Adrian Thompson. “imageHOLDERS interactive kiosk solutions are both intuitive and easy to use. Plus, our digital kiosks are tailorable to every business for each required user journey. Developing this touchless kiosk using Ultraleap’s technology was a gratifying challenge, and I am very excited to see how it helps people navigate their busy lives in real world applications.”
“We’re excited to work with imageHOLDERS to create a touchless self-service kiosk that will meet the increasing demand for touchless interaction,” says Saurabh Gupta, Director of OOH Product at Ultraleap. “Companies and brands are looking for intuitive solutions that are easy for users to pick up and engage with. I believe the combination of imageHOLDERS interactive kiosks and Ultraleap’s touchless technology is the answer.”
The company says it can tailor how the solution works by different verticals.
I remain very skeptical – not of the tech, which I have tried – but of the general public, which now has 14 years of habitual experience with iPhones, iPads and no end of other devices that they touch, flick, pinch and zoom all day long. Plus ATMs. Self-service QSR ordering. Self-checkout at grocery. On and on.
I just think that unless there is a staffer right there, telling people they don’t need to touch the screen, customers are going to touch the screen. It’s going to be a muscle-memory thing.
Pre-pandemic, touching certain kinds of screens was already dodgy because of worries about bacteria left behind by other users, so it can be effectively argued that this will be beneficial. But you have to teach people and get them into a habit, and most companies who use interactive technology for things like transactions and lookups want to speed up interactions, not slow them down by introducing a new way – one that’s perhaps going to be a little slower and finicky.
As noted in previous posts on this subject:
- touchscreens are just one of endless things we touch when moving in retail and public environments, but they get all the attention;
- the retail and QSR industry, contrary to expectations, is aggressively adopting touchscreens as a means to minimize face-to-face staff/guest interactions at counters and elsewhere;
- the touchscreen sector is actually doing great.
I’ve little doubt the touchless tech does the job, but lotsa doubts about it seeing a lot of adoption for the use cases being pushed.