Touch screen technology has become an integral part of our lives. They have revolutionized the way we interact with gadgets and smart devices. So much so that they have forced the guys at Microsoft to think about doing away with the venerable Windows desktop and Start Menu in favor of a brand new interface designed primarily with touch screen devices in mind. While that may have triggered off heated debates regarding the future of PCs as we know them, one thing is for sure, the magic of touch screens are here to stay.
Decades from the design board to every-day life
The pace at which these screens just took over our imagination and became a ubiquitous part of our daily lives is nothing short of staggering. Just consider a few facts about the origins of this technology. Sure, everyone knows that Apple and a certain Steve Jobs played a key role in popularizing touch screen devices starting with the launch of their now legendary iPhone. But did you know that their researchers at Cupertino had a design for a touch screen phone as early as 1983? And no, Apple didn't invent this technology. It was first invented way earlier than that. How far back, you might ask? Think about the Nixon era. That is right, that early. It is just that it took technology decades to bring this innovation into everyday life in a more accessible way.
Not just the successor to keyboards and mice
The two main devices that use touch screen technology nowadays is the smartphone and the tablet. These two mobile devices are poised to overtake the PC as the digital communication device of choice for people around the world. But that doesn't mean that touch screen technology is just a replacement of the good old keyboard and mouse. It is much more than that. With their accessibility and ease of use, they have limitless potential in all aspects of life, both economic and otherwise. Just look at the way the iPad is being used these days. The internet is full of instances and examples where iPads have been used in innovative and novel ways, far beyond what its designers could have possibly imagined while developing it.
The iPad: a jack of all trades
It has been used in restaurants as smart menus, as retail cash registers, as display devices for any number of reasons, as sales terminals, for surveys and customer feedback, and even in hospitals and by doctors as diagnostic aids. What does all this tell you? Beyond the fact that the iPad is a truly versatile device, it also tells you that there is a huge market for devices that involve touch screen technology. Businesses and people use iPads in such innovative ways because touch screens can make their work easier, cheaper and even greener. If they had dedicated touch screen devices tailor made for their situation, they wouldn't have to depend on a generic and personal device like the iPad.
Touch screen manufacturers: a field of Davids and Goliaths
In most cases of touch screen enabled devices, they are not manufactured in house by the company. For example, Apple buys their screens from third party vendors. And these vendors range from the big players like LG and Samsung to relatively unknown names (in the public sphere) like AU Optronics, TPK, Wintek, Cando, Balda and Hannstouch. While most smartphone and tablet screens use a type of technology called capacitive touch screens, there are many other ways and technologies that are used in creating similar screens. Each method has its own pros and cons and have applications in many fields. And since this is a scenario where innovations is constant and seemingly limitless, it doesn't matter if you are a huge conglomerate like LG or Samsung or one of the anonymous smaller players. There are enough niches to explore and newer possibilities to discover.
Finding applications for multi touch tech beyond smartphones and tables
Take the case of Sollensys Corp. for instance. The Gwangju, South Korea based company is a seasoned player in the capacitive touch screen manufacturing and research field, having worked with the likes of Nokia, Apple and RIM. They are a good example of companies that are focusing on harnessing the potential of captive touch screen technology that are found in the smartphones and tablets in the market by finding broader applications in other fields for this technology. Sollensys is into the R&D of multi touch sensor modules that can be used in dedicated devices like smart menu/order plates in restaurants, multi touch information panels for public kiosks, digital medical charts for hospitals, and even a universal remote control.
The current trend of using iPads or other multi-touch tablets with dedicated apps for certain specific purposes may be innovative, but it won't be sustainable or economically scalable beyond a point. It is here that the necessity for dedicated multi touch devices comes into the picture. There is massive potential in this arena, and companies like Sollensys are leading the way forwards. For if they don't, somebody else surely will!
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