The Touchscreen Is Leading An Industrial Revolution


One of the most striking aspects of the film Minority Report was its futurist thinking. In the film, Tom Cruise and other actors interact with a digital project that mimics a technology we now have today. Today’s panel PC systems that have become an ubiquitous part of commercial industry even mimics some of those same gestures. Perhaps the most amazing thing that the film managed to nail was just how all-encompassing this technology would become.

It’s easy to miss just how many capacitive touch-screens are in use throughout our daily lives. Yet it would be difficult to imagine life today without them. Grocery store cashiers can ring up orders and locate the codes for produce much faster. Fast food restaurants can relieve line congestion with an automated kiosk that takes a customer’s order. Yet these consumer-based examples are just the tip of the iceberg. How we utilize technology is changing rapidly thanks to our ability to interact with it.

Touch-Screens at the Airport

Walk through any airport and you’d be surprised to find people not interacting with touch screens these days, but that’s one of the more unique aspects to this technology. Companies can construct applications that will interact with their own servers through a user’s device. This is already happening in Newark Liberty International Airport, where touch-screen tablets are available in resting areas between flights. Travelers will be able to browse the Web, order items from restaurants and sync up with flight schedules to see where their travel plans stand in real time.

The idea is to make travel bearable, but it’s not difficult to imagine the next phase of this technology. One’s smartphone may soon become the portal to all things check-in related. The greater access that is afforded to consumers, the more we’ll be able to take care of with just a few swipes.

Medical Computers

Most people who have been to the doctor in the past few years have probably already noticed how touch screens have been integrated into the life of medical professionals. Doctors immediately enter a diagnosis the moment it’s made, even forwarding prescription information to your pharmacy of choice. Another change occurring behind the scenes makes life a lot more efficient.
A study was conducted at the University of Nottingham’s Hospital. Touch screens were added to let patients check themselves in, which had several effects outside of the reception area. The hospital could track patient load in real time, which meant staff could be directed to deal with priorities far faster than before. Decreased wait times also helped ease the stress level of everyone at the hospital, both patients and staff. The hospital was even noted as appearing more organized, a side effect of making data digital.

The Army Gets an Upgrade

The United States military seems to think that the smartphone will be a critical aspect of the future battlefield, and is working hard to integrate Microsoft’s Surface technology into its battle plan. Commanders envision a future where soldiers on the battlefield can thumb through critical mission data, such as satellite footage or heat maps, during an engagement. The entire scenario adds up to a mobile command site that can assist in deployment and direction of troops on the ground.

If you’re thinking it’s a bit impractical for soldiers to text and shoot, you’re probably right and the Army knows that too. These small-scale tests are utilizing open-source technology to try and build practical applications with real-world usage. Today, soldiers are tethered to a phone. Tomorrow, they may have a heads up display with modified optics.

Final Thoughts

Technology has given the most basic elements of our lives a much needed upgrade. Because of applications, we’re able to interact with touch-screen devices in a meaningful way. The Internet of Things is also making its way to manufacturing, lowering costs and carbon footprints. Soon, humans will manage much of our workloads remotely, while we focus on the high-level management of all these menial tasks. It’s going to require a smarter workforce, but technology is unlocking possibilities in a way the movies had only dreamed of.


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