COVID-19: Stay Away From Shared Surfaces & Use Instead Touchless Kiosks

COVID-19: Stay Away From Shared Surfaces & Use Instead Touchless Kiosks

Naveen Joshi 29/10/2020 6
COVID-19: Stay Away From Shared Surfaces with Touchless Kiosks

Touchless kiosks can help stop the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing agents by eliminating the need for touching public surfaces such as the kiosk screen.

We are all familiar with the humble kiosk. We have encountered them at malls, airports, and food outlets. Although there are different variations of kiosks in use, touchscreen kiosks, in particular, have gained immense popularity. These devices have made our lives easier by allowing us to carry out multiple tasks with a few taps on the touchscreen. These devices also seamlessly integrate into our learned behavior of using other touch devices such as mobile phones, making them easy to understand and use. But whereas a mobile phone has limited touch interaction, mostly only by the owners, kiosks are shared surfaces used in public places. Thus, touch screen surfaces can increase the risk of transmission of disease-carrying pathogens. And this has been documented in a tabloid research report by Metro UK. The research found traces of disease-carrying bacteria on every McDonald’s touchscreen kiosk they tested. This proves that touchscreen kiosks can contribute to the spread of diseases. So, whether we are going through the current turbulent times of the COVID-19 pandemic or not, it’s time we looked for alternatives to touchscreen kiosks to reduce the physical use of shared surfaces. An excellent solution for this can be replacing touchscreen kiosks with touchless kiosks.

What are Touchless Kiosks?

We have already encountered touchless technology in various devices. Smart speakers such as the Apple HomePod allow users to perform tasks with voice commands. Similarly, Microsoft Kinect allows users to control their in-game avatar through gestures. In the same way, using artificial intelligence, touchless kiosks can enable users to interact with the kiosk and carry out several tasks. Users can perform all tasks in the same way they would do on a touchscreen kiosk but, as the name suggests, without having to touch the kiosk at all. Touchless kiosks incorporate advanced technologies like artificial intelligence in the form of voice or gesture recognition tools. These tools can uniquely identify the inputs of the user and carry out the intended actions.

What are Touchless Kiosks?

Why Should You Upgrade to Touchless Kiosks?

Touchscreen kiosks have made it convenient for users to expedite tasks with just a few taps on the screen. Touchscreen kiosks were primarily looked at as a replacement for human employees. With a definitive set of inputs and outputs, touchscreen kiosks could help users complete a task quickly and without incurring high human labor costs. But touchscreen kiosks have also resulted in becoming a harboring place for bacteria and other disease-causing germs through thousands of unwashed hands interacting with the device daily. To mitigate this risk, businesses regularly clean kiosk screens. However, it is not feasible to clean the kiosk screen after every individual use. Even if businesses do adopt a consistent cleaning policy, it might end up doing more harm than good. Studies have shown that frequent cleaning of touchscreens can end up damaging the screen. Thus, businesses might require to replace the touch panel frequently. To sum it up, when hygiene is given the priority it deserves, touchscreen kiosks become a liability rather than an asset for businesses.

Businesses can overcome these issues that concern touchscreen kiosks by upgrading them to a touchless interface. Touchless kiosks eliminate the need to touch the kiosk screen physically. Users can carry out tasks in the same manner as they did with a touchscreen kiosk but without having to touch the device. This eliminates the transmission of germs that usually occur through shared surfaces, in this case, the kiosk screen. Thus, touchless kiosks result in being a much more hygienic option as compared to touchscreen kiosks. Similarly, businesses can save a substantial amount of finances spent on operation and maintenance costs as touchless kiosks are relatively inexpensive to maintain as they undergo minimum wear and tear during their use.

What are the Technologies that Make Touchless Kiosks So Useful?

Touchless kiosks can make use of artificial intelligence technology to provide users with a hands-free experience. The two major components of artificial intelligence technology that businesses can use in touchless kiosks are voice recognition with the help of natural language processing capabilities and gesture recognition through motion and depth-sensing tools and computer vision. These technologies can be used standalone or in combination to enrich the user experience. Here’s a look at each technology in detail.

Voice Recognition

Voice recognition is the ability of a machine or program to receive and interpret dictation or to understand and carry out spoken commands. Voice recognition has gained prominence in the form of voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Voice recognition technology uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand the user’s input and carry out the necessary operations. With artificial intelligence capabilities, the voice recognition tool can even understand nuanced or slang words or can interact in multiple languages. For example, it can understand that the word ‘nope’ and ‘nah’ spoken by the user means ‘no.’ This adds a layer of human touch and makes the conversation more natural. Users can simply walk up to a kiosk and start interacting with it as if they were speaking to another individual. Touchless kiosks with voice recognition technology have been installed at airports for contactless check-ins during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Gesture Recognition

Gesture recognition is the ability of a machine to recognize and interpret human movements to carry out tasks. Users can control the kiosk with hand movements such as swipes or pinches, to perform various tasks. With gesture recognition, users can pick an option merely by pinching their fingers or scroll through menus by waving their hands horizontally or vertically. Thus, gesture recognition provides the same functionality while forgoing the need to touch the kiosk. For example, this touchless kiosk that helps users in selecting food items with simple hand gestures.

Touchless kiosks, thus, prove to be a better alternative to traditional kiosks, when it comes to public hygiene, as they eliminate the need for contact with a touchscreen surface. This is extremely important in these times where the current COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize the importance of hygiene. Needless to say, we must continue with our efforts to maintain high hygiene standards, even after the pandemic is over. Touchless kiosks enable us to do exactly that by minimizing our interaction with shared surfaces (kiosk screens). In addition, they also provide an engaging and interactive method of communication with gesture and voice control interfaces which is absent in touchscreen interfaces. To know more about touchless kiosks and how you can add a touchless layer to your existing kiosk, contact us.

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  • Adrian Pope

    In the middle of a pandemic, touchless kiosks are handy !

  • Ethan Carley

    Voice recognition is a power tool to recognise an individual

  • Steve D

    I avoid touching any surface

  • Ray Fowkes

    Only few airports are implementing touchless kiosks. By the end of covid, every airport will do so.

  • Andrew Hope

    This pandemic made everything digital and more secure

  • Gary Stephenson

    Thanks for the info

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

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