Interactive digital displays are quickly becoming the standard in restaurant, retail, and hospitality industries. Touchscreens, kiosks, and interactive boards give organizations new ways to interact with, guide, and offer information to customers, in settings ranging from room-booking and queuing to product comparison, online ordering, and digital menus for products ranging from fresh food to car rentals.
But, for the organizations looking to install interactive digital signage, doing so means choosing the right technology, content management, digital signage software, and placement. A lot goes into making a quality touchscreen installation.
At the same time, if you do choose to install interactive displays, it’s critical you get it right. Poor quality displays, lagging on-screen information, and poorly designed content create work against you and reduce customer experience. Some studies show that customers are more frustrated by touchscreens that don’t work well than by not getting information at all. The only way to do signage right is to invest into a quality, seamless experience that feels as good as something someone would get on their phone or tablet.
Interactive Display Hardware
Hardware is the heart and soul of a digital signage display. It’s what your customers will see and touch, and it’s where issues are most likely to appear. Investing in quality digital signage often means understanding what quality is and what it is for your location, environment, and usage needs.
Types of Interactive Digital Displays
There are four primary types of interactive displays. These touchscreens each have their own pros, cons, and price points.
While formerly the most popular touchscreen option, resistive screens are quickly falling out of “fashion”. These screens use a membrane layer over the glass to detect mechanical finger pressure. While cheap, they provide a lower quality user experience than most alternatives.
These displays offer multi-touch, high screen resolution, and touch sensitivity unrivaled by any alternatives. Unlike resistive touchscreens, capacitive touchscreens rely on disrupting energy signals, rather than mechanical pressure, leading to a smoother, less error-prone user experience. While able to offer a very high-quality user experience, they are expensive.
Surface Acoustic Wave touch screens function using acoustic wave disruption over a glass plate. Unlike capacitive displays, SAW touch screens work with a stylus. They’re also more durable, thanks to fewer moving parts and a solid glass plate. SAW displays offer lower resolution but are a prime choice for busy areas and for kiosks.
Optical Imaging Touchscreens use light disruption in the same way SAW screens use acoustic waves. Like SAW displays, Optical screens can be used with a stylus or a gloved hand. These displays are affordable, especially for larger screens, but are relatively new to the market and not always available. Like SAW, optical displays do not offer the same resolution or touch capacity as Capacitive.
Standard digital displays can be powered by anything from a microcomputer the size of a chip to a full-size computer. Interactive digital signage requires some extra consideration.
Here, it’s almost always a good idea to choose a player with its own random-access memory, and a dual or quad-core processor. While you can range up to a small PC, a properly configured mid-range model offers the same performance and benefits in most use cases.
It’s critical to choose your displays for your environment. In most cases, you’ll work with a digital signage installer that will offer technical specs for your project, including brightness, weather resistance, durability, security, remote access, and remote updates. Keep these in mind when choosing your solutions.
Cabling, power supply, and networking are all critical. Your digital signage installer will help you measure and set these up but make sure you invest in quality solutions.
Interactive Display Content
Content is the second most visible aspect of an interactive digital signage solution. It’s easy to go wrong. Interactive content must be designed for interaction, which is known as “touchscreen native.” Why is this important? You can easily see the difference between visiting a normal website on your phone and using an app. Interact content must be seamless, user friendly, reactive, and easy to navigate. You have to invest in content designed for screens, for touch, and for interactivity.
This might also mean designing content that imports live data, allows clients to log in, implements packaged HTML products such as apps, or otherwise changes in real time.
Digital Signage Software
There are hundreds of digital signage solutions on the market but not all of them support touch screen solutions. Digital signage software includes content management software (CMS), software players, servers, networking tools, and server management.
Most are bundled into a single platform or service, which you can use to leverage the entire system. Here, the most crucial features include touchscreen native software and a content manager that supports interactive content (which is typically built in layers).
Installing Your Interactive Displays
Proper installation is key to ensuring a quality solution. This means choosing a digital signage installer capable of offering a technical team to scope the project, select hardware that meets your content and user needs, and ensure your network is capable of supporting data requests and network load, even at peak usage.
Interactive displays typically require higher power supplies, better network availability, more processing power, and more server space, so they require extra attention in terms of technical network solutions. Your installer should be able to select and optimize these solutions for your displays.
Touchscreens and interactive displays are useful in dozens of industries, but it is critical you get them right. Hopefully this installation guide helps you make the decisions to install quality signage across your organization.