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Signage, professional displays embrace touchscreens

Posted: 18 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touchscreen? smart phone? digital signage? display market?

The rise of the smart phones has spurred enormous interest in touchscreens and now another area is putting this technology on center stage: digital signage and professional displays.

According to iSuppli Corp., global shipments of touchscreen modules for applications are set to grow more than fivefold in the coming years, rising to 5.4 million units in 2013, up from 971,755 in 2009.

Education and conference rooms were the two biggest applications for touchscreens in the digital signage and professional display market in 2009, accounting for nearly 86 percent of the total unit shipments. The third and fourth biggest applications are indoor venues and retail signage.

By 2013, the key applications driving the touchscreen market will be education, indoor venues, conference rooms and retail signage.

"Touchscreens have great appeal for use in front-projection interactive whiteboards in the education and conference room markets," said Sanju Khatri, principal analyst, signage/projection for iSuppli. "These whiteboards make it easy for teachers to enhance presentation content by integrating a wide range of material into a lesson, such as an image from the Internet, a graph from a spreadsheet, or text from a Microsoft Word file, in addition to student and teacher annotations on these objects. They also allow teachers to create easily and rapidly customized learning objects from a range of existing content and to adapt it to the needs of the class in real time. At the same time, adding touch capability to digital signage opens up another dimension to screens and helps provide relevant information to a customer."

A variety of touchscreen technologies are capable of being scaled up to a size suitable for use in signage and professional displays. These include resistive, optical imaging, electromagnetic, projected capacitive, bending wave, infrared and surface acoustic wave. However, no single technology is superior in determining the right touchscreen technology for the signage and professional market because each approach has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The dominant touchscreen technology used in signage and professional displays is resistive, accounting for 41.9 percent of units in 2009. The market for front-projection interactive whiteboards being used in conference rooms and educational settings accounts for most of these shipments. Resistive touch technology is the most mature and developed of all touchscreen technologies, making it the least expensive alternative.

However, by 2013 optical imaging will emerge as the leading single touchscreen technology in the signage and professional display market, accounting for 25.6 percent of worldwide unit shipments. The dominant use for optical imaging touchscreen technology will be in conference rooms.

Optical imaging touch technology uses cameras to detect touch, gestures, or other body movement. The resulting signals then are processed by associated software to determine the touch point. In the case of gesture recognition, one's motion triggers an interactive response from the display system with which the person is interacting.

Optical imaging touchscreen technology is suitable for conference rooms because this technology offers cost-effective scaling to large sizes.

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