Modern outdoor media is no longer passive. Simple signs selling or explaining something to an audience are no longer as effective as interactive signage. Digital signage, which allows an audience to interact with it, provides a truly dynamic form of communication than just regular digital displays flashing the images and content at people. To enable interactivity, digital signage screens need to incorporate touch screen technology, something that has now become a ubiquitous technology to people.
Touchscreens are a familiar technology to people. Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and tablet PCs, touchscreens are part of everyday life and non-interactive technologies are becoming old hat. In fact, if you look carefully at any standard digital signage screen, you’ll see fingerprints covering the screen face. This is because people now expect a screen to be interactive, which is why more and more outdoor digital signage installations are utilising touch screen technology to provide a more dynamic form of communication.
Because audiences are more likely to interact with a touchscreen than a standard digital signage device, touchscreens provide a better method of advertising and creating brand awareness. A screen simply relaying repetitive adverts can soon become unnoticeable to passersby, but a screen that allows full interaction will receive far more attention by providing a two-way communication that is now expected by an ever technologically-savvy audience.
Touchscreen use in digital signage enables potential customers to discover more information about products and services, provides a platform for two-way communication, and generates an image that the brand belongs to a modern, twenty-first century company.
Touchscreen technology is not new. Touchscreens have been used for years, particularly in industrial settings where standard computer use is made difficult by the environmental hazards. However, with the rise of the smartphone and other similar technologies, touchscreens have become the preferred method of data access in personal devices too. Because touchscreens are now so ubiquitous, they have the advantage of requiring no training of instructions as people already know how to interact with them.
While there are different methods of creating an interactive screen, most handheld devices and outdoor digital signage systems use a capacitive touchscreen, as they are more effective in variable temperatures and less prone to false inputs. This is essential for a display used in an outdoor area as varying temperatures and windblown debris could easily make a touchscreen unusable, but even with capacitive screens, outdoor areas can pose problems for touchscreens.
Whether they are interactive or not, all outdoor screens require some form of protection against the elements, varying temperatures and risk of damage through impact. Traditionally, outdoor digital signage displays have been enclosed in an LCD enclosure that is designed to protect the technology from becoming damaged from the weather and impacts.
The most vulnerable area on any outdoor screen is the LCD face, and typically, these are protected by a glass screen to ensure the display isn’t damaged through impact. However, because touchscreens only work if a user can make contact with the screen face, keeping it behind a protective barrier such as this won’t work, which leaves many outdoor touchscreens vulnerable to damage.
Typical touchscreen enclosures have been unable to get around this problem, and while they provide adequate protection around the unit and enable a device to operate in all-weathers, the face of the touchscreen is still vulnerable to impacts and damage because of the need to keep it exposed for interaction. However, there is now another way.
A different approach
Traditionally, touchscreens have been a single, specialised unit. However, other than the screen face, there is nothing to distinguish a standard LCD display from a touchscreen. In fact, any LCD display can be turned into a capacitive touchscreen simply by using a capacitive film in front of the LCD display. This retrofitted Touchfoil, acts just like a regular touchscreen device, but has the distinct advantage in that it can be fitted in front of the glass, with the digital display being completely protected by operating the behind the glass.
This unique method means that a screen can be enclosed and fully protected inside a protective outdoor enclosure, and yet can still operate as a fully workable touchscreen. This not only allows a screen to be placed in any outdoor area where it can operate as a fully functional touchscreen, but also offers the freedom to use any LCD device, of any size, to act as a touchscreen.
Armagard touch screen enclosures provide this unique solution for using interactive screens in any outdoor location, while ensuring total protection against collisions, wind-blown debris, impacts, vandalism and varying temperatures. The capacitive film used in the touchscreen enclosure is attached to the outside of the protective glass that ensures the screen is kept safe from the rigours of the outdoor environment, but permits interactivity.
With both single and multi-touch capabilities, the touchscreen enclosure is available in sizes ranging from 32” to 70” across an entire range of styles, from landscape and portrait to totem displays, all of which can be used outdoors as interactive touchscreen devices.
Ensuring your touchscreen can operate in an outdoor area means it needs protection from anything that could possibly cause damage and failure. Armagard’s touchscreen enclosures are manufactured to the European IP54 standard, which ensures the enclosure can withstand all the rigours of an outdoor location.
This means the enclosure is built to be waterproof, to protect from heavy rainfall, dust tight to protect from wind blown particles, is protected from impacts whether they are accidental or deliberate, is lockable and secure to keep out thieves, and also contains electrical surge protection.
The IP54 rating on Armagard’s touchscreen enclosure enables a touchscreen device to be used in all sorts of different environments. Because of its waterproof abilities, the touchscreen will work in almost any outdoor location. As it is lockable and secure, it can be left unattended without fear of theft or damage, and the different mounting options means it can be hung from a roof, wall-mounted or even installed as a standalone totem. Even in conditions of bright sunlight, with the right type of high brightness LCD screen, a touchscreen can operate without visual problems, and the capacitive touch-foil can even be a user wearing gloves.
All this means that touchscreen enclosures are also ideal for use in industrial settings. The level of water and dust protection provided by the IP54 touchscreen enclosures means that the unit can be installed even in dusty, dirty or wet areas. The IP54 protection means that the touchscreen can operate without risk of damage or failure in most industrial and warehouse locations..
Touchscreen enclosures are incredibly versatile, especially as they come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and orientations, which means their uses is almost unlimited. Touchscreen enclosures are an ideal first-contact device. Hotels and public buildings can provide information about room availability, prices, opening hours and events, while shops can use them as a means of promoting offers and sale items.
An outdoor touchscreen enclosure is also idea for the food retail industry, providing an interactive menu system that not only lets customers see what is on offer, but also is able to take orders. Transport hubs too can use outdoor touchscreen enclosures to provide interactive timetable information and route planners, while the interactivity provides an ideal method of branding for advertisers.
From wayfinding and information provision, advertising and branding, to self-service and order kiosks, outdoor touchscreen enclosures provide a simple, state-of-the-art solution for creating interactive communications for wide range of locations and uses.
Return on investment
One of the best aspects of using an LCD screen housed in an Armagard touchscreen enclosure that is equipped with touch-foil interactivity is the potential return on investment the unit offers. The enclosure can house generation after generation of screen, providing the same level of protection and touchscreen capabilities without any additional cost. Screens are easily replaced, as the enclosure can remain in situ while a new screen is installed, reducing potential downtime.
Because the screens housed in the touchscreen enclosure are standard units, the combined cost of the enclosure and screen is often comparable, if not less, than a bespoke outdoor touchscreen device, but because the enclosure can last for years, housing so many different generations of screens, the return on investment just keeps getting better.
All of Armagard’s touchscreen enclosures are built to unrivalled quality, using over 14 years of industry experience. With a five-year standard warranty on all mechanical parts, all enclosures have also undergone rigorous testing procedures to guarantee they can operate without trouble in a variety of settings. Armagard touchscreen enclosures are also stylish and provide an aesthetically pleasing unit that looks modern and functional. Whether situated outside a public building, shop, hotel, transport hub or installed inside a factory, a touchscreen enclosure provides a modern, efficient form of interactive communication that can raise the profile of a building and bring into the twenty-first century.