While digital signage provides a modern, efficient, dynamic and engaging way of communicating with people, it does have limitations. Advertising LCD screens and information displays are one-way communication devices in that they only relay information and can’t receive it. Increasingly, thanks to modern technologies such as mobile phones and tablet computers, people expect more interactivity from digital signage, which is why more and more screens are being installed with touch screen technology.
In fact, this expectation is extremely evident when you turn a standard LCD advertising display off, where telltale fingerprints suggest people automatically attempt to interact with the screen, even when it is not a touch screen. This is a presumption that is increasing as touch screens spread throughout other technologies such as tablet PCs and the latest smart phones.
Touch screens have many benefits for all sorts of digital signage applications. For information providers they allow customers to access more detailed information. A wayfinding screen displaying a map, for instance, can allow customers to find specific directions to a location, while an advertising display showing a promotion can allow customers to find out more information regarding the promotion or discover the location of a store where the offer is being sold.
The basic touch screen digital signage system does not differ too much to a basic display screen. A touch screen panel is used in place of the standard LCD screen while a PC powers the screen’s interactive content. For outdoor touch screen use, things become a little more complicated as the touch screen will still require protection from the elements, but because of the need for interaction on the screen face, it can’t be covered with a protective screen as with an LCD display.
Outdoor touch screen enclosures enable this protection without inhibiting the touch screen capability of the screen, although different types of touch screen operate more or less efficiently in outdoor environments.
Several different touch screen technologies exist. These include resistive, capacitive and surface acoustic wave. These different types have different limitations for touch screen use. Resistive touch screens, for instance, are highly susceptible to damage, while capacitive touch screens don’t operate very well in cold weather or when somebody is wearing gloves, while surface acoustic waves are more durable, can operate in variable temperatures but are less sensitive.
The type of touch screen to use for a digital signage installation will depend on the type of application the sign is intended for, and where it will be located. For outdoor digital signage, a surface acoustic wave touch screen will probably be best, while resistive and capacitive touch screens are better in indoor areas or for applications that are more intricate.