Interactive Touchscreen Options for Advanced Manufacturing: An Overview

In advanced manufacturing and thinking about investing in an interactive touchscreen experience to help showcase more complex solutions or products?

We’re often approached by firms from a wide range of industries who see the appeal of being able to engage with their customers and display their solutions in a visual, immersive way.

Perhaps they’ve recently been to an event and have been inspired by a showstopper of an experience, or were impressed by a company’s new tech-savvy headquarters?

Interacting with content should be immersive, memorable and engaging such as this experience we created for Bosch Packaging 

Whilst they often have a rough idea of what they’re looking for, they’re not always sure of what’s actually possible for their business – or where to start. After all, there’s a lot to think about.

So, if this sounds like you, and you’d like to know more about the options when developing an interactive touchscreen experience for your advanced manufacturing business, read on.

As touchscreen specialists, we’re going to tell you what’s involved in the creation process, the different options for both hardware and software, and the types of features and functionality available.

The main options for an interactive touchscreen experiences

With so many different options at your fingertips for creating fun, engaging and immersive interactive experiences, the possibilities are virtually limitless. However, we’re aware that simply pointing that out doesn’t make it any easier.

 There are a number of different ways to explore content that is tailored to the specific needs of your audience (Example: GEA).

The best place to start when deciding on the type of solution that’s right for you is taking a good look at your audience. Think about what they’re going to be interested in – what will engage them? What will they feel comfortable using?

Here are some of the questions to ask yourself before you begin:

  • Why do you need an interactive touchscreen – what are the goals it can help you achieve?
  • Who is going to be using it? Think about your ideal customers or target audience
  • What does success look like for you and your customer?
  • What interactions do you want to include on your touchscreen experience?
  • Where will your interactive touchscreen be placed? Think about your surroundings
  • How big is the space, and will there be WiFi? 
  • Does your touchscreen experience need to be portable? (Say if you have multiple upcoming events)
  • Will you need to update the content on your interactive experience?

These are just some of the things we recommend thinking about before you approach a touchscreen specialist. TIP: We’ve gone into much more depth in our recent blog on the subject. *INSERT LINK*

There are two main parts to a touchscreen – the hardware (the screen and computer) and the software (the experience) that goes onto it. 

Let’s start by breaking things down into the two main components of an interactive touchscreen experience; the hardware and the software.

1. The hardware

The hardware is what users will physically touch, but think of it more as the outer shell than the heart of your interactive experience. You can pick up hardware from a variety of suppliers, to include anything from small, handheld screens to massive touch walls.

There are a number of different touchscreen hardware options

If you’ve been researching your hardware options, you’ll probably have come across the following:

  • Touchtables
  • Interactive kiosks
  • Podiums (or stands)
  • Bespoke touchscreens
  • Standalone solutions
  • Integrated solutions
  • Indoor or outdoor solutions
  • Interactive video walls

You don’t even have to limit the hardware to the touchscreen itself. What we mean by that is, your touchscreen experience can even interact with other objects in the room (think 3D models, lighting, object recognition).

TIP: Stuck for choice? Choosing the right hardware will also depend on the types of features you need for your touchscreen – along with your audience and location. A touchscreen specialist should be able to help you settle on the right options for you – it could even be a combination of the above!

2. Developing the experience/software

Now we’re getting to the heart of your experience. If you’re looking for the best way to showcase your products or services and have to deliver complex information then an interactive experience can help you bring your story to life.

Interactive presentation touchscreen

 Visual storytelling can really bring an interactive experience to life (Example: GCP).

A truly immersive, engaging and memorable experience means focusing on the end user, and creating a visual journey built around their needs (rather than just having a platform filled to the brim with product-centric messaging). Consider: What will they be thinking when they approach the screen? What will get their attention? How will you keep that attention (stories are always a winner)?

People interact with touchscreens differently from laptops or smartphones so it’s important to get the content right. Make sure that you use clear and simple navigation, underpinned by a  consistent, engaging narrative. You should also consider the actions you want users to take, and how you’re going to get them to that point.

On larger screens, users should be able to easily see what they need to do next, and the options on each touchpoint – without feeling lost or overwhelmed. But if you want them to enter any personal information on your experience, a smaller screen may be a better option.

 Make it easy for users to make a decision, as per this clear navigation in our Antillion experience

As for the software itself, there are different options available. One of the applications we specialise in is called Intuiface (a specialised multi-touch solution). Or, the experience could be developed in HTML. Both of these options require a specialist developer, though.

What about features and functionality?

When looking at features and functionality, the possibilities are virtually limitless – and end with your own imagination! Okay, that might sound a little daunting.

To give you some idea, you could have anything from stunning visuals, PDFs and videos (or interactive videos), to 3D models, interactive games and gamification. Throw in a bit of gesture control (such as Microsoft Kinetic), facial recognition or even augmented reality, and you’re good to go.

You might even want to try object recognition. It’s particularly good if you have a solution (or components) you want people to pick up and feel, as you can place things on a touchscreen and it’ll interact with those shapes.

If you’d prefer your touchscreen to recognise people rather than objects, demographic recognition could be a good option. This enables your touchscreen experience to judge how many people are standing in front of the screen, whether they’re looking at the display, and other demographics such as age or sex. The content can be customised depending on the scenario!

Another good option could be using iBeacons – which allow you to pick up an object or product and when you go near the touchscreen, you’ll be presented with all the relevant information.

Again, it really goes without saying that the interaction you opt for should really depend on your audience and what you’re looking to achieve.

Advice from the interactive touchscreen specialists

Our advice is to find an experienced interactive touchscreen specialist who has plenty of knowledge and background when it comes to creating interactive experiences. Experiences being the operative word, over someone who simply develops software or websites.

This is because the process to create an engaging and immersive touchscreen experience is entirely different from how you’d put together a website – or even a smartphone app. The navigation has to be clear, with plenty of ways for users to interact and get involved in fun and surprising ways.

 There are a handful of exciting and different ways for users to explore content, as per this wayfinder

If possible, ask to see examples of their previous work – they should also want to hear about your goals and what you’re looking to achieve with your experience. If you’re not 100% sure, they should ask you all the right questions to help better understand what you need.

This is without a doubt the most important stage we go through with our own clients. Purely because many of them are unaware of the many possibilities that could help shape the experience they want to create, and the features that could lead to creating something unique, immersive and bespoke to their brand.

As an advanced manufacturer, if there’s something you’re looking to achieve with your experience, or a feature you’d love to try out, don’t be afraid to ask if it’s possible. Most touchscreen specialists should jump at the challenge!

In summary 

Thanks for taking the time to read. Hopefully, we’ve given you a better idea of some of the possibilities when creating an interactive touchscreen experience for your advanced manufacturing business. Touchscreens can be a brilliant way to highlight the benefits of your product and services in a visual, easily digestible way – and the sky’s the limit when it comes to possibilities!

Got any questions about the different options when developing interactive touchscreen solutions? Simply get in touch using the contact form below – we’d love to hear from you!

Stuart Janicki
Senior Content Designer
stuart@popcomms.com

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