One of the newest technologies to be gaining traction in the commercial and governmental spaces is the kiosk. The kiosk is not a new technology at all, in fact it has been around in some form or another since the nineteen seventies, but new advances in touch screen capabilities are redesigning kiosks into twenty first century cutting edge devices.
The first kiosks most consumers are familiar with is the automated teller machine (ATM). These were built to allow users to make bank withdrawals and deposits outside of the regular banking hours. The first ATMs were known affectionately referred to as a “hole in the wall” due to the fact that they were typically built right into the side of the bank for security purposes. Until very recently, almost all ATMs featured a numeric keypad and several buttons with arrow indicators that flanked the sides of a green screen terminal. The terminal would ask the user a series of questions and the user could select their answers by pushing the corresponding arrow button on either side of the screen. The user then used a numeric keypad to type in the amount of money they wanted to withdraw or deposit.
Another kind of kiosk available to users that was more of an extension of the home personal computer was the informational kiosk that included a trackball pointer and a full “qwerty” keyboard. This design was very useful to customers who had some computer knowledge and was often used for museum information or local community access to the Internet, such as was available in libraries. The main drawback to this design is that the full keyboard and mouse were difficult to maintain functional ouside due to weather conditions and also the availability of the full keyboard allowed the possibility for hackers to subvert the system.
Due to the usability and security limitations of these early kiosks, the future of kiosk technology is in the touch screen.
Touch screen technology has been available for many years, but recent advances have made it much more user friendly and allowed for greater accuracy and screen clarity.
The first touch screen kiosks widely in use were known as the 4 wire resistive touch screens. With these touchscreens two sheets of glass or acrylic are placed over the terminal and charged with a small electrical current. Between the layers there is a small invisible layer of separator dots that registers the electrical current passing through any particular location on the screen. As pressure is applied and the two layers meet, the electrical current changes and can be calculated by the computer. These systems are fairly inexpensive, but also fairly inaccurate, requiring large buttons on the display.
The 5 wire resistive system is more accurate and more durable. It works the same way as the 4 wire system, but can be used for smaller read outs. These systems are typically used in environments with high usage and complex interfaces. Restaurants and industrial controls are two of the most common domains for this technology.
Surface capacitive touch screens
Surface capacitive touch screens work by using a layer of electrified glass over the display interface. When the electrical field is disrupted through human touch, the coordinates can be calculated and displayed by the computing device. These systems can be very accurate and durable. They also offer a higher resolution than the 4 and 5 wire resistive systems since there are less layers between the graphical display and the user.
Projected capacitance touch systems work in a way very similar to surface capacitive touch systems, but they can register when a finger gets near the surface without actually touching it. This is very useful in high security applications as the computing devices can be placed behind a sheet of armored glass.
Ifra red touch screens
Ifra red touch screens use beams distributed along an X Y coordinate system. When a pen or human finger disrupts the beams, the device reads and displays the coordinates. These systems are highly accurate and because there is no protective glass layer required between the user and the display, the quality and accuracy can be much better than with other touch screens. Adoption of infra red systems is very specific as it does not work well in bright light and the lack of protective glass barriers may pose a security concern.
The article is written by Jason Philips; a writer, wanderer and a tech geek.He works for zivelo.com, a reputed company providing interactive touch screen kiosk.