What still needs to happen, either conceptually or technologically, for touch interactivity to reach its full potential?”
When I look at my iPhone next to a large interactive display, I realize that I’m comparing technologies that serve different purposes, although they both share the same input method: touch. Thanks to the huge user base and well-defined scope, mobile phones were able to reach a higher level of maturity much faster, and while doing so, it has helped educate and assure billions of people that it is OK to touch a screen.
As a creative agency, when we witness people approaching our installations and start interacting with them, we have already won half the battle. The other half is a mix of user experience, content engagement and call-to-action.
To reach their full potential, touch deployments need to satisfy multiple requirements. Content creators need software that can “wow” their audience without being too complicated or difficult to maintain. These statements tend to be mutually exclusive, as template-based interactions are far from being as spectacular as custom-developed experiences.
From the engagement angle, just publishing material is not enough. Users should be led to interact with the touch display by means of proximity detection (e.g. beacons), and be offered a more individual journey thanks to cognitive services (e.g. facial recognition) and other special effects (e.g. augmented reality).
The missing link remains the transfer of information from the touch display back to the user, in particular to their mobile phones. In China, the WeChat app has popularized QR codes to levels that we can only dream of in the U.S. And, Apple hasn’t enabled iPhones to work with NFC yet. Once we are be able to combine great individualized content with an easy path to take relevant information away, touch interactivity will be a step closer to reaching its full potential.