Q&A: Vendors Of Touch Screens
Representatives from three prominent touch screen vendors answer questions about the opportunities this technology offers VARs.
1. What are the newest markets embracing touch monitors?
3M Touch Systems, Paul Baril: Early market adopters were in the hospitality and retail markets. Because these markets are becoming saturated, VARs are starting to explore new areas such as healthcare, transportation/warehousing, and industrial (e.g. manufacturing). Realistically, there isn't a market where touch technology won't work. After all, a touch screen is just an interface that depends on software to be effective. Thus, a VAR can hit a home run by writing software to be used with touch technology in a specific marketplace.
Elo TouchSystems, Paul Wiener: Some of the areas of growth we have seen include:
2. Are there markets that require a special touch screen?
Richardson Electronics, Michael Lesko: There is no 'silver bullet' technology that fits all markets/applications. VARs realize this and take advantage of all technologies.
3M Touch Systems, Paul Baril: In healthcare, both patients and medical staff such as nurses may interact with touch screens. Depending on where the unit is located, these units may need to comply with specific medical electronics standards (e.g. UL2601-1), since the touch screen could have an effect on other surrounding electronic devices. For instance, a patient's monitoring equipment could be affected.
Elo TouchSystems, Paul Wiener: Different types of touch screens address different applications. For example, healthcare professionals always wear gloves, must abide by safety and privacy requirements, and require high clarity from touch monitors. Some other examples include outdoor environments where weather is a concern and public applications with vandalism and clarity concerns.
3. Are LCD flat screen sales still increasing?
3M Touch Systems, Paul Baril: Yes, LCD sales are increasing in all markets. These units offer more value, are more energy efficient, last longer, and offer more screen size in a smaller package than their CRT (cathode ray tube) counterparts.
Elo TouchSystems, Paul Wiener: LCD sales are still increasing in all markets, even retail. Although the cost of most LCDs is still twice that of CRTs, the TCO (total cost of ownership) makes LCDs the more cost-effective solution. In our business, less than 1% of our customers are still using CRTs.
4. Which issue about touch screens hasn't been discussed enough?
Richardson Electronics, Michael Lesko: The ease of use and the limitless applications for touch screens aren't discussed enough. Also, the technology has been improving over the years, making touch screens a long-term investment that will pay dividends today as well as tomorrow.
3M Touch Systems, Paul Baril: VARs need to be innovative in determining where touch technology can be applied. Look for an ISV (independent software vendor) that has a niche solution or do it yourself. Many VARs have this ability; they just need to choose a solution.
Elo TouchSystems, Paul Wiener: TCO isn't emphasized enough. So many times we see people look at the purchase price of a touch system and not value the cradle-to-grave costs of operating the system.