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Interactive Touchscreens Offer New Possibilities

Self-service kiosk

Businesses around the world and across every industry have a lot in common. They want to streamline operations, lower costs, increase their competitiveness, and grow revenue. Remarkably, interactive touchscreens that incorporate next-generation technologies like computer vision, voice recognition, and AI play a key role.

From shopping centers to hospitals to the factory floor and beyond, the versatility of interactive touchscreens brings new opportunities—both to these organizations and the system integrators and ISVs that serve them. And when leading touchscreen manufacturers like Elo Touch Solutions partner with Global Solutions Distributor BlueStar, Inc., SIs and ISVs can get to market faster with the integrated systems their customers need. BlueStar takes it one step further with custom solutions—backed by service, support, logistics, and marketing.

Elo Touch in Action on the Shop Floor

In industries with traditional workflows, interactive touchscreens can offer significant opportunities for optimization.

This was the experience of the manufacturer Magnum Piering. The company has been very successful—and its success means taking on larger orders. But in a production facility where space was already limited, that wasn’t easy.

Its operations had a standard machining process, but not optimized for space savings. Design and configuration were handled in one area of the building, and then loaded into a machine on the shop floor. The company wanted to consolidate these functions into a single system so its machinists could do everything in one place.

To accomplish this, it invested in a Hypertherm plasma cutting system, which can be controlled by direct human interaction. But in a harsh manufacturing environment, it comes with safety risks. There are sparks, dust, and metal fragments in the air, and workers wear heavy protective gloves. To solve these problems, Elo Touch deployed open-frame interactive touchscreens as the input device for the Hypertherm machines. Since the platform allows for a high degree of customization, the company’s engineers were able to optimize the device drivers and input settings so the system could be used with gloves on.

The result is a turnkey solution that dramatically improves Magnum Piering’s machining workflow. With more than 6,000 touchscreens installed throughout its facilities, the company can process orders of up to 500 tons—more than double its previous capacity.

Self-Service Shines at the Cinema

Touchscreens also help businesses respond to changing customer preferences. The Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theatre is a prime example. Kerasotes Theatres has been in business since 1909, but like many companies in the hospitality and entertainment sector today, it’s having to adapt to new customer expectations.

“In the ‘new normal,’ customers are demanding convenience above all else,” says Rick Smith, Director of Business Development at Elo Touch. “There’s a lot of research about what makes customers decide to remain at a site and make a purchase or not. Overwhelmingly, we’re now seeing that customers will leave if the ordering process becomes inconvenient to them.”

At the movies, this means that if customers are running late, or if it’s a busy night, they may decide to skip the candy and popcorn altogether: an unacceptable loss for a business that makes so much of its profits from concessions.

Working with Kerasotes, Elo Touch set up self-service ticketing and concession kiosks based on their all-in-one I-Series interactive touchscreens. Now moviegoers enter the theater and buy tickets and concessions from one of the many available kiosks in the lobby—each unit capable of serving up to 350 customers per day.

The result has been an improvement across the board. Wait times are down and customer satisfaction is up—as are concession sales.

Modular Design: The Key to Versatility

It’s pretty clear why businesses want to use touchscreens. But the main reason they can be deployed in so many different settings is their inherently modular design.

To begin with, the touchscreens are diverse. The Elo Touch solution, for example, ranges from handheld models with the form factor of a smartphone all the way up to large-format models with 65-inch displays.

A touchscreen unit with Elo Edge Connect built in can be customized with peripherals: barcode scanners, webcams, NFC and RFID readers, status lights, biometric scanners, and so on. Touchscreen providers also enhance this basic modularity with compute devices to help with controlling complex solutions. Elo Touch, for example, offers EloPOS Pack, a controller for point-of-sale applications that supports custom configurations involving up to 15 different peripherals.

Intel technology makes this modular design possible: “Intel processors give us an extraordinary, flexible, and stable platform for building custom touchscreen solutions,” says Smith. “They provide the high performance required for intensive workloads for advanced applications.”

The Future of Interactive Touchscreens

The evolution of interactive touchscreens that Smith refers to is inevitable. One clear opportunity for transformation lies in self-service applications currently handled through touchscreens alone. Computer vision, for instance, could be used to identify products that a customer intends to purchase and speed up self-checkouts.

As Smith sees it, this integration of technologies will be a good thing for both businesses and customers: “People want to make their own choices. Your customers want to choose their own journey. The perfect system will be the one that offers touch, voice recognition, computer vision, and AI in combination—and lets the user drive the interaction.”

In a sense, then, the changes coming to interactive touchscreens are really a way of fulfilling their original purpose: to put control back in the customer’s hands.

About BlueStar

BlueStar is the leading global distributor of solutions-based Digital Identification, Mobility, Point-of-Sale, RFID, IoT, AI, AR, M2M, Digital Signage, Networking, Blockchain, and Security technology solutions. BlueStar works exclusively with Value-Added Resellers (VARs) to provide complete solutions, custom configuration offerings, business development, and marketing support. The company brings unequaled expertise to the market, offers award-winning technical support, and is an authorized service center for a growing number of manufacturers. BlueStar is the exclusive distributor for the In-a-Box® Solutions Series, delivering hardware, software, and critical accessories all in one bundle with technology solutions across all verticals, as well as BlueStar’s Hybrid SaaS finance program to provide OPEX/subscription services for hardware, software, and service bundles. For more information, please contact BlueStar at 1-800-354-9776 or visit