The recent announcement of Apple’s new iPad is a reminder that we haven’t just got used to using multi touch displays on our consumer tech, we have come to expect it.
And this expectation is driving demand beyond the consumer market – designers of everything from industrial control equipment to next-generation medical devices are under pressure to enhance user experience by integrating multi touch input technology into their products.The good news is that multi touch technology is evolving rapidly – not only keeping up with demand in terms of functionality, performance and durability but also meeting price points dictated by ‘non consumer’ production volumes. Indeed, the challenge now is not so much in finding a multi touch technology but in choosing the optimum technology for the target application.
Recent developments, for example, include next generation Projected Capacitive or PCAP multi touch. Compatible with bare or gloved fingers, the latest PCAP solutions offer 10-finger touch and feature superior drift-free performance, outstanding optical clarity and a fast and accurate response time.
And then there is the ‘game changing’ 2D and 3D tracking technology known as ShadowSense. Ideal for the rapidly growing medium to large size touch industry, ShadowSense uses touch sensor LEDs integrated into a bezel and independent of the glass surface, meaning that any glass can be used to provide a protective window. And because the technology is simple and effective it can deliver multi touch applications for prices comparable with traditional single touch designs.
Of course, while the rapid developments in multi touch are exciting, technology is not a user interface solution in its own right, but merely an enabler to delivering the optimum user experience. And, as the new iPad clearly shows, this still comes down to good user interface design by people who can go beyond meeting the functional spec and put themselves in the shoes – or the fingers – of the end user.
By Rob Anders, CEO of AndersDX, which specialises in multitouch technology, dedicated to enabling rich display experiences for products, making them the easy and enjoyable to use.