Touchless technologies will emerge as we face the challenges lying ahead.
The evolution of species occurs as a result of the need to adapt for survival reasons. In the same way, our technological also evolves in times of need. The last 2 years (2020-2021) saw technology provide the tools to preserve life and society from COVID-19 dangers—by fostering both physical health and also mental wellbeing. One of these still evolving tools is touchless technology. Interest in applying this technology in novel new ways has never been stronger, especially in the context of making working places, public transportation, and other public gathering places safer for people to occupy these spaces.
Touchless technology provides a method of control between the user and any electronic device or sensor without the necessity of direct physical input or any kind of contact. This technology uses algorithms made to interpret voice, movement, gestures, facial expressions, or other natural inputs Touchless technology establishes a connection between these inputs and the corresponding command to the controller that operates the device being addressed.
Key types of touchless technologies
- Facial recognition
- Voice-speech recognition
- Touchless sensing
- Gesture recognition
Touchless technologies are not something new.
Dating back to 1896 and the first radio-controlled device (a kind of a wireless bell), to the invention of the TV-remote control, to the Barcode technology introduced in 1980, to today’s world of many – contactless technologies. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of this touchless tech was a way of just simplifying lives and was concerned mostly about convenience. The pandemic would soon change all that.
So, why now and how touchless technologies will make any difference?
As the recent course of events with COVID-19 has shown, a technology that eliminates, or at least minimizes the physical touch associated with the control through the push, touch, or swipe to a screen, button, or switch, becomes highly desirable to most people. This capability ensures that other precautions (hand washing, surface cleansing, etc.) become secondary measures when a high level of safety is preferred. Understandably, touchless tech usage implementation and usage has increased significantly during the last year with significant continued growth foreseen today and tomorrow.
When people avoid touching common area surfaces the risk and potential danger of spreading a virus is vastly diminished. Airports, train-stations, bus-stations, museums, and many other places have embraced technologies and optimized their systems to provide high quality, easy and fast customer experience and support. Wide-Touchscreens and tablets have become the way of paying, informing, and ordering in many places. Companies, as well as the people, embraced them fully and quickly for the benefits that they provided—primarily efficiency and effectiveness. The emergence of public safety concern and the thread of virus transmission is resulting in further adaptation of the technology additionally to meet these newest challenges to preserve the health and safety of the people using the technology.
How touchless technologies will make a difference?
To answer that question it is important to examine first the areas that can be affected by that type of technology.
1. The working environment will continue to adapt
It is obvious that while facing 2022, workers and employers adapted to a different working environment, accepting the work from home, digital meetings, etc. But this adaptation is not something that fits every working environment. Some jobs require a physical presence of the Worker. Keeping in mind the health of the worker as the number 1 priority, it’s clear that the introduction of touchless technologies can contribute a lot to a healthful working environment.
Control of lights, temperature, printers can get to the next level of control by using personal devices. Instead of using the switch or button placed in common areas and devices, users could achieve a specific action through apps in a wearable or a personal cell phone minimizing the risk of infecting or being infected through touching a control panel.
Door, soap-dispenser, faucet, paper towel dispenser, lights, toilet flush are in use in many public spaces already with device actions triggered through the sense of a hand or presence of a human, eliminating once more the need for the person to physically interact with the device. It’s highly likely that these technologies will continue to adapt to the point where elevators, doors, window shades, and other devices typically controlled today through human touch will also be adapted to touchless operation.
2. Digital assistants give a different approach to Everyday life
Personal digital assistants will continue to increase their functionality, performing more and more tasks when the user asks explicitly requests them and, in some cases, though pre-programming of preferred actions when their presence is detected.
Public places with information kiosks, ordering kiosks and other interaction devices will continue to proliferate. These devices, many deployed pre-pandemics often using a tablet or touch screens. While innovative these devices did not necessarily contemplate a world where health issues connected to the cleanliness of these devices, used by hundreds, if not more, people every day would be of high concern. Utilizing touchless technology going forward will ensure that these digital assistants can continue to be used in common areas, providing information and help when asked.
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3. Transportation will be altered
Public transport and public or semi-public (think ridesharing) traveling increase the danger of spreading microbes and viruses. This is well known, but until recently, we have not faced a challenge as significant as COVID-19. As a result, there was no systemic approach to take or provide significant health precautions as part of the entire travel experience—from start to finish. From a ticket machine to the paper ticket itself, to the use of coins to the check-in procedure, it is becoming obvious that one can be cautious till a point nut no one can completely avoid possible exposure to harmful pathogens.
That said, on can minimize the possibility of the chance of exposure by utilizing touchless technologies, contactless payments, e-check in, and e-ticketing. These technologies are already widely but not completely deployed in all sectors. Through the use of touchless technology, transportation can be made simpler and safer; trips can become a desirable option and the means of transportation other than one’s personal car can be re-embraced by the public.
4. Social inclusion will be reintroduced
Worthy of note is the fact that these improvements in touchless technology have collateral benefit by changing the world for the better for people with physical disabilities perhaps giving them access to capabilities newly enabled by touchless technology.
Touchless technology takes advantage of voice, gestures, presence, facial identification, and other biometric technologies. No longer are physical touch-actions needed, to perform simple tasks. These technologies promise to address contagion concerns while making the world a better and more inclusive place for all.
“Ark Electronics USA and Surfaceink have created ArkX Laboratories to deliver a exceptional voice experience to the marketplace. We are on a mission to develop and transform a unique technology into a platform-based service with an accompanying array of related products.From pre-engineered advanced performance solutions and custom integrations to voice qualification services and streamlined manufacturing, ArkX Labs can help get your ideas and IOT products to market… faster.”
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- Surfaceink is a pioneering Silicon Valley product design and development studio providing full-system and consulting services for Fortune 500 companies and startups including its work on flagship products for global leaders such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, Dolby, Fitbit, Google, and Intel.