15 Ways to Choose a Touchwall

29 August 2018

Introduction

When you are building a touch videowall or table, there are a lot of options out there. Some of these look almost identical (because they are), while some stand out in one way or another. A badly designed touchwall is tedious to use and probably won’t satisfy the original objectives.

When you are planning to build a touch wall, there are many things to keep in mind. In fact, the list of important parameters is surprisingly long, which is why we made this list.

Not all of these are important for all cases, so the weighting between them will vary, depending on what you need.

Touch

By now, almost all phones have touchscreens, most of them really good. In the touchwalls, there is much more variation in the quality of touch.

For touch, quality translates to various technical parameters and we are ready to pick up the first 4 parameters.

  1. Latency. Lower latency makes the interaction more immediate and natural. Note that many technologies do not scale very well – when the size goes up, their performance drops.
  2. Frame rate. This sounds similar to latency, but it is different. With a high tracking frame rate, you get smoother interaction, which is a huge benefit.
  3. Accuracy. If the touch tracking is inaccurate, users cannot hit objects reliably. The last thing you want is people getting frustrated because the touchscreen cannot determine the touch points.
  4. Feeling. Front glass with high friction will discourage users from swiping objects in the screen. Different front glass treatments can reduce the friction, making the usage more acceptable. Another important aspect is the temperature of the display. A hot display begs to be not touched.

Some displays (especially IR frames) trade latency for accuracy, so you can get either good accuracy, or low latency, but not both at the same time.

Looks

The image quality of touchscreens varies enormously. Some technologies have a tendency to make the image quality worse. This is true for many projective capacitive displays.

We are ready for the next 4 parameters.

  1. Resolution. Touchscreens are meant to be used from arms length. If you invite people to view them the resolution must be high enough to show all relevant details of the content.
  2. Contrast. This is a stumbling block for many touchscreens, especially the ones that rely on video projectors or touch foils. With low contrast, even a small amount of ambient light can hide details or colors.
  3. Brightness. There just needs to be enough of it. For the brightest indoor installations, 700nits is recommended, but usually 300-400 nits is enough.
  4. Seams. The smaller the seams, the better. Seams are especially important if there is a separate audience far from the display, but their significance is smaller for people who actually touch the screens.

Modularity / flexibility

Large walls are always composed of smaller modules. A wall with cheap modules can be very expensive if you cannot mount and unmount them easily, or if maintenance is expensive.

Can you create the shapes that you want from the modules and  how are the modules mounted, maintained and how reliable they are.

The next 6 parameters.

  1. Can you make a curved touch wall? Curved walls are very useful, if you need to have a view of the whole wall. Surprisingly many touch systems fail if you want to create a curved wall.
  2. Can the modules be put in an angle? This is not for everybody, but with asymmetric/angled installations and the right content one can achieve dramatic effects.
  3. Mounting accuracy/sturdiness. Poor mounting can increase seams and make the whole installation look unprofessional. The best displays have well thought-out mounting systems, that make the whole wall smooth.
  4. Sturdiness is often overlooked, by people used to non-touch screens. If you push the screen, it should not wobble or vibrate. Still, many mounts exhibit this kind of weakness.
  5. Power and temperature. When making a large wall, the power consumption and heat generation can be an unpleasant surprise. Make sure that the displays have remote control for power-save mode.
  6. Maintenance. Difficult maintenance means more downtime and costs. If the maintenance can be done on-site, this reduces the maintenance burden dramatically.

Cost

Money always makes a difference but cost is not the be all and end all.

  1. Value is more important than the cost. If the wall comes with easy-to-use software that users enjoy interacting with, then the touchwall will be in constant use for many years – the value, or return-on-investment case, is considerable.

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