Everyone has been there. You’re buying something at the store, and you have to touch a pin pad or screen to complete the purchase.
With COVID-19 still around, you might wonder how safe it really is to touch a surface that hundreds of other people have just touched. One solution to this problem might be touchless technology. Keep reading to find out all about it.
Filling Big Shoes
Just as touchscreens started to become ubiquitous in our culture, they also started to become obsolete. Just a few decades ago, touchscreen technology was in the realm of science fiction.
With new technological breakthroughs, however, touchscreens started to become a reality. They started out in the 1980s with computers, but these were specialized machines that never made their way into the public spotlight.
In the 90s, touchscreens gained in popularity as more people started using personal digital assistants, or PDAs. It wasn’t until the turn of the century, however, that touchscreens really became an integral part of the way we live our lives.
Touchscreens are now everywhere. From the phones and tablets we use on a daily basis to biometric security systems and even vending machines, they pervade our culture.
In the last decade, touchless technologies have come into the foreground with voice-activated devices like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. However, they have given a violent shove into necessity.
A Big Push
Beginning in 2019 and continuing throughout 2020, we have experienced a phenomenon that almost no one was prepared for. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of how we live our lives.
From the way we shop to the way we interact with other people, it seems like no aspect of our lives has gone unaffected by the virus. The way we use screens is no exception.
Every time we touch a screen in a public place, it is a risk. What if someone who is sick came before us and touched that screen? Studies have shown that viruses can live on plastic and glass for up to 72 hours.
This is where touchless technology comes in. It can help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of things people touch. Because of this, it is seeing higher demand than ever before.
With this higher demand comes an increase in research and development for this technology. From grocery stores to fast food, we will likely be seeing much more touchless technology in the near future.
Types of Touchless Technology
There are two main types of touchless technology currently being developed. While voice-activated devices are currently in wide use, gesture recognition will also play a role in the shift to touchless.
Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have already introduced devices that use voice-activated technology successfully even before the pandemic. Although the idea is decades old, it was only recently that it became feasible to use widely.
This technology uses something called natural language processing to interpret spoken language into something a computer c an understand.
This is an enormous challenge because different people speak different languages and speak with different dialects and accents within the same language. Add in slang and colloquialisms, and it seems like a wonder this technology even works.
Over the years, it has gotten much better at interpreting what people mean and how to respond. Depending on the situation they can either respond with words to make the user experience more conversational or with visuals.
Different companies have taken different approaches to how the device responds with varying success. It may come down to personal preference or the specific application, but time will tell.
Gesture Recognition technology is a little newer and the general consumer probably isn’t used to the idea yet. This doesn’t mean that it won’t come into play soon, however.
In situations where voice-activation may not be feasible, such as at a loud grocery store or public place, gesture recognition may be preferable. We are already familiar with movement sensors like automatic doors, but this would involve screens and computers.
Any device that has push-buttons, whether they are physical buttons or virtual on a touchscreen, can use this technology to replace the buttons. It can interpret the gestures you make and use them to determine which selection you would like.
These touchless controls use a technology called computer vision. This takes an image from a camera and interprets it into something a computer can understand.
It is useful in all sorts of industries such as on vehicles to make sure you don’t drift into the wrong lane or crash into the car in front of you. It is also used in gaming where certain gestures can affect the character in a game.
Although not as widespread as voice-activated technology, gesture recognition could be a huge part of the way we transition to touchless interfaces.
The Future of Touchless
Whether it’s voice-activation technology or gesture recognition, we are likely to see a large increase in touchless technology in the coming years. Instead of touching our devices, we will use touchless control electronics.
Things like touchpads and card readers at grocery stores will likely become touchless. Proximity sensors will be able to tell when we are close to a device and turn it on in response.
Biometric scanners that now require a handprint to identify people will probably switch to a touchless method such as retina scanning or facial recognition. For more information about touchless electronics, you can visit this website.
Now that you know all about the future of touchless technology, feel free to do some research on your own and decide if this technology is right for you.
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