COMPARISON OF THE CONVENIENCE OF TOUCH SCREEN AND METHODS OF ELIMINATING THE COEXISTING RISK OF INFECTION. PUTTING THE CONTACTLESS TOUCH SCREEN TOPIC FORWARD, AND CONSIDERING BOTH REALISM AND COMMERCIALIZATION, FILM SOLUTION IS BETTER THAN CONTACTLESS TOUCH SCREEN AT THIS MOMENT.
One of the developments of the last decade or so has been the touchscreen. They have become an everyday part of all our lives, allowing us to do everything from searching the internet on our phones to usage wherever we go – the supermarket, the doctor’s surgery and many others. But with the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, limiting what we touch has become something we’re all told to practice. So, where does that leave the safety of the touchscreen? And how will it all work in a future when we’ve been told to touch fewer and fewer things?
In retail alone, touchscreens have reduced transaction times, allowed for lower staff numbers and delivered a resultant cost saving for business. In the classroom, they have increased interactivity and enabled new levels of learning. With all of these benefits, we don’t want to eliminate the touchscreen. The upsides are far too many to lose. Before we look at the alternatives, let’s take a look at current options and advice.
Where Are We With Touchscreens Right Now?
There isn’t any specific government advice regarding the use of public touchscreens. And, as such, decisions have been made on an individual basis. But, when you think about it, they have the potential to spread viruses in the same way door handles, PIN terminals, ATM’s and other surfaces that the public use on a regular basis.
Our lives have been disrupted significantly over the past couple of years. And that disruption has been for the greater public good. Our role has been to protect each other by making small sacrifices. The touchscreen manufacturers have some worries about the way things are going. If people avoid using these devices, then they won’t have a market for their products in the future. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What Are The Options?
In terms of a safer future, there are a few choices. The one that looks the simplest from the outset is to stop using touchscreens. Voice activation has been put forward as a way of using interactive devices whilst reducing the potential risk of transmitting infectious diseases. But the technology isn’t sophisticated enough at this point in time to make that a viable option.
Another alternative is to develop apps for use on individual devices. So, rather than many people using the same device, we have a situation of many devices using the same app. Now, this might work in certain environments. But it doesn’t adapt to all situations. For every success story such as allowing employees to bring their own device for Zoom calls, there is a failure in terms of a school allowing children to bring in their devices. There would be more social media post and YouTube video views than actual work being carried out if this was to happen. And what about public spaces such as a doctor’s surgery? It isn’t viable to expect people to take up valuable memory on their own device for a ‘checking in system’ app that might only be used every few years or so.
Can We Make Touchscreens Safe?
Well, with the limitations of the above solutions, it is well worth looing at how to solve this problem whilst using the existing technology. And that’s where innovative solutions come to the fore. Anti-viral films applied to existing devices allow us to carry on with life as normal without the risk of passing viruses between us via touchscreens. Viruses by their very nature are two things –
- Infinitesimally small
- Difficult to remove with a simple spray and wipe
So, an anti-viral film would cope with both of these issues at once. The film would kill viruses on contact and reduce the need for harsh chemicals to remove the potential of infection and transmission.
Now, let’s look at the facts associated with coronaviruses –
- They remain on surfaces for a very long time
- They are adaptive
- Coronaviruses are highly transmissible
And these aren’t the only viruses we need to be aware of. The global COVID pandemic is a line in the sand where we stop and think again about the way we live our lives. We already know that influenza causes many deaths per annum. Then we have bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella typhimurium. Being able to stop these from being passed from one person to another will allow us to manage public healthcare in a much more efficient manner. Simply staying more than two meters from another person isn’t nearly as effective when they are following behind and touching the same touchscreen that you are.
Touch Screens With Anti-Viral Film Vs. Contactless Touch Screens
Now that we have seen the potential solutions, it is time to begin the task of updating the way we use touchscreens. As it stands, there is far too much potential for these to be part of mass transmission. The touchless solutions have major flaws. Voice recognition technology isn’t good enough to be used on a mass scale at present. When you take into account different accents and different usage of things like slang and jargon, and you have a too large margin of error. And that doesn’t even take things like background noise into account. Asking people to use their own device doesn’t work in certain situations - mainly those in public spaces, as well as discriminating against the elderly and those without the funds to purchase these devices.
Applying a simple, relatively inexpensive film to existing devices is a much better and much more cost-effective solution that can be rolled out in a matter of weeks, even for a big organization. It offers immediate and long-lasting protection for the most important thing in any organization – the people, whether they are customers or employees.