The Push for Touch-free Technology

As Covid-19 ushers in new concerns for hygiene and social distancing, touch-free technology is exactly what the ‘innovation doctor’ ordered

In the wake of Covid-19, statistics already indicate major ramifications for business owners of all fields and industries, from retail store owners to bankers, factory owners, and travel operators. Relying on their customers engaging with their businesses via millions of interactions with ATMs, ticket machines, self-service checkouts, and other technologies requiring physical touch, these businesses fear that fear of infection via touch will keep consumers away. 

Their fear is, of course, substantiated. Online sales increased 55% to $66.3 billion in July 2020 compared with July 2019, as people have shied away from touching physical products, standing in line, and paying at brick-and-mortar stores. And, it seems that this attitude change may very well be here to stay.

As we return to public spaces – or at least strategize on how to safely do so in the future, decision-makers in innovative workplaces used to leveraging touch-based technology to streamline their business operations must accept that people will want to touchless and socially distance more, but still enjoy the same level of service – and offerings.

Types of touchless technology that can be integrated into
the post-COVID-19 workplace 

There are various types of touchless technology that are already being used in businesses of all types – and can be leveraged for new uses in a post-COVID-19 place of work. The most common form of touchless technology is gesture recognition. Sensors are employed to identify when a person is performing a gesture near a particular device, triggering an automatic reaction, such as the opening of a door, or the activation of a command. Automotive manufacturers are already using gesture recognition in some vehicles to enable drivers to safely adjust the volume on their car radios and answer telephone calls, without having to avert their eyes from the road. And gesture recognition is already being introduced to other applications, such as motion and gesture-based advertising, virtual gaming, IoT device controlling, etc. This capability can easily be integrated into many business applications, to keep customers coming back in the post-Coronavirus reality.

Other types of touch-free technology include voice and facial recognition. The former would allow customers to explain what actions they want to take, rather than pressing a button or swiping a screen. The latter would activate various business processes, simply by recognizing particular facial features. Though these forms of touch-free technology would require an initial onboarding process for employees and customers, their benefits would far outway the hassle, especially when it comes to secure actions, such as paying for purchased items. 

Of course, businesses can create applications for employees and customers to use on their personal smartphones and computers, eliminating the need for shared devices. And since smartphones have already replaced the need for users to own cameras, music playing devices, document scanners, and even calculators (and more), harnessing smartphones as touch-free technology seems like a logical next step.

Why going touchless will give your business more

The shift from shared to personal devices outlined above is just one benefit of going touchless with your business’ technology, though the reduced dependence doing so creates is significant in and of itself. Other key benefits of using touch-free technology include better hygiene, smarter operational processes, and the promotion of better accessibility for users of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. 

Better hygiene

It goes without saying that to keep people infection-free, a hands-off policy is best for businesses in public places. If people aren’t touching the same surfaces (and area wearing masks to prevent aerial transmission), then the chances of Covid-19, or any other germs or viruses being left behind by a customer, are drastically reduced. This, of course, is not a novel idea. A 2008 study on the use of touchless soap dispensers in public restrooms led to greater hand-washing compliance, as users were less wary of contracting others’ germs while performing their own ablutions. 

Smarter home and work processes

No-touch also leads to greater implementation of automated processes – at work and on the homefront, such as automated access control, voice command activation of devices and appliances, and more, reducing the load on any single person. And who wouldn’t want to start their coffee machine while still sitting at their desk, finishing up that last-minute brief? While some people are naturally great multitaskers, going touchless will most certainly streamline and expedite everyday processes and operations.

Better accessibility for people with disabilities

Voice and gesture powered technology can be leveraged to include more and more diverse populations within the working and commercial worlds. People with physical disabilities would benefit from being able to complete actions and transactions using their voices, while people with hearing and speech impairments could engage in those same activities, using body movements. For those who struggle to operate touch-based devices, this would be a huge step towards their feeling like full and participating members of mainstream society.

Considerations when planning touchless technology

Like with any new integration, adapting your business to enable employees and customers to go touch-free will likely involve some form of a learning curve. That being said, with an initial investment of time and resources, and some careful planning, integrating touch-free technology is poised to be any business’ ticket to successfully navigate through the post-Covid-19 era. Be sure to always focus on the people who will be using the tech – their needs and demands, and keep your solutions simple and focused on the short and long-term. And remember, while we don’t know exactly how the virus will affect businesses and business activities down the line, we do know that the steps you take today to adopt Covid-proof technology will only help you weather the pandemic-ridden storm and plan for a safer, more profitable future. 

Do you want help accelerating your touch-free technology start-up? Contact Highroad Launchpad today!