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03 April 2020

In these dark and uncertain times, people are understandably concerned about touching any surfaces that are used by others, particularly in public spaces – anything from doorknobs to petrol pumps, and ATM keypads to stair banisters.

One situation that gained widespread media coverage, some months ago (long before the current Covid-19 pandemic), was a report that touchscreens used on some self-service kiosks in quick serve restaurants, showed positive for faecal matter and e-coli bacteria, when tested.

This quickly provoked a backlash against such systems, however, fast forward a few months, and the speed in which coronavirus has spread globally, resulting in the need for people to socially distance, means that we should not be too hasty in condemning touchscreens in public applications, if they are properly maintained and cleaned – as they minimise the need for a customer or user, to interact/transact face-to-face with another person.

We’ve recently released a guide to cleaning and disinfecting our touch sensors , and this blog aims to highlight some of the benefits that touchscreens deliver at this difficult time, when maintained correctly:

1. Designed appropriately and with the right touch technology chosen (projected capacitive is ideal), completely flush, flat and edge-to-edge glass/plastic user interfaces can be created which are much easier to clean and disinfect than mechanical controls, with nooks and crannies that can harbour microbes.

2. Some touchscreen technologies (and again, projected capacitive delivers) can respond to the touch of a bare finger, but also a gloved (including latex) hand and a stylus – maintaining distance from the potentially infectious screen.

3. There are special glasses and coatings becoming available which can retard and ultimately kill bacteria (for a cost) and many touchscreen technologies can incorporate these. Although, it’s important to note that they will have no effect on viruses, such as Covid-19.

4. If a combination of fixed function keys and a dynamic/changeable touchscreen area is desirable for an application, say for a control panel in a food processing plant, then with our latest ZyBrid® VK capability, this can easily be achieved in a single, uninterrupted and hygienic glass surface, managed by one touch controller.

5. For cases where a degree of tactility is needed, so that users can ‘feel’ their way across the flat touchscreen surface, we can now offer the option of machining features into the front of the glass – such as dimples, grooves and dials. Again, the entire front surface of the touchscreen remains unbroken, easy to clean and with few/no places for microbes to lurk.

We cannot stress enough the importance of good cleaning practices when it comes to any self-service touchscreen. Our Cleaning Methods for Zytronic Touch Sensors (Glass) can be found in the Support section of our website. If you need any further help or information, please contact us directly where our experienced team are more than happy to help.

Finally, to all our employees, customers, partners and suppliers, doing their best to operate in this challenging time, we at Zytronic thank you for your support and continued trust in our products and technology. Whether you’re at home or still able to work, please continue to follow the Government guidelines, keep your distance, keep washing your hands and above all else, stay safe.