Have you had a chance to really experiment with touch-screen technology? I'm talking about the exciting large-scale technologies coming out of companies such as NextWindow, which has become a great presence in this nascent market. You might think touch-screen is more suited to the entertainment realm, but I'm seeing some definite potential for the enterprise.
I recently spoke with Al Monro, CEO of NextWindow, about his company's optical multi-touch displays. “One of the key reasons why the all-in-one desktop PC market is hot is touch technology,” he said. “Users appreciate the convenience factor: Touching a computer screen to access content frequently is faster and more practical than sitting down to use a mouse and keyboard.”
Although the consumer approach is obvious and exciting, the business angle deserves some attention. We discussed the scenario of an IT administrator using a TouchSmart system to manipulate a granular network map, to use his fingers to navigate the maze of connections and endpoints—much like Tom Cruise's character in Minority Report.
Monro spoke of a bank in Houston that's using a TouchSmart solution in one of its branches: "It allows a customer to chat with a 'virtual loan officer' via the use of a webcam and touch applications." He also shared the example of a company that uses TouchSmart PCs to showcase its solutions to customers. Also, he said, "Some automotive dealers are deploying interactive displays to allow prospective new car buyers to configure their own vehicle with various options."
A particularly popular business implementation has been virtual tours: "The advent of touch-screen implementations in real estate and the travel industry is delivering more contextual representations of buildings and places to help influence sales," Monro said. "For example, an architecture firm in an urban area that's trying to build a high-rise tower can use a 3D touch-enabled modeling application to present visuals of the project—including street and aerial views and different angles of a building—to help persuade interested parties, such as city planners, who are needed for approval."
Last fall, Sony selected NextWindow as the foundation for its own touch-enabled, multi-media machine—the VAIO L Touch HD PC/TV—which includes a 24" wide screen panel. Several other PC manufacturers are also shipping touch PCs including NextWindow touch screens, including Dell, HP, and Medion.
NextWindow touch screens have been “logo certified” by Microsoft to work with Windows 7. Find more information about NextWindow at the company website.