Beyond Interactivity: Expanding on Touchscreen Types (Part I)


In my last post, I discussed the most common types of interactive touchscreens, and I will expand on that here. Besides the overlay technologies for touchscreens, there are several types of touch options including:

  • Single-point
  • Dual-point, and
  • Multi-point

It is important to understand the differences when using these various, interactive-touch type options. Programming for the use of how a person interacts with the screen is dependent on the software’s capability used to program interactive content. For more complex user-touch programming, you will also require a fast processor for your signage player/computer to respond quickly to gestures. But it is your application that dictates the type of touch interaction required.

Single-point Touch

Single-point touch occurs when a finger or stylus creates a touch event on the surface of a touch sensor, or within a touch field, so it is detected by the touch controller, and the application can determine the X, Y coordinates of the touch event. This is good for simple, basic menu choices or to click through pages of information.

Gesture-based Technology

Another trend emerging with retail digital signage is gesture-based technology. This enables the user to interact with the display with certain gestures. With just a pinching of the fingers, a wave of the hand, or a swipe across the screen, a consumer can zoom into an image or transition to the next screen. Programming content for gesture-based technology requires expertise in interactive programming, especially when developing content for multi-user-touch.

Dual-point Touch

Dual-point touch refers to a touch system that can detect and resolve two discrete, simultaneous touch events. Dual-point touch systems support gesturing, allowing for two-finger interaction. With two fingers, a user can zoom in and out, expand a page, rotate an object and other interactions.

Multi-point Touch

Multi-point touch refers to a touch system’s ability to detect and simultaneously resolve a minimum of three touch points, resulting in a dramatically improved touch experience. Multi-touch is widely considered as an interface because of the speed, efficiency and intuitiveness of the technology. Multiple users can stand in front of the screen and interact with it independently. Their information will be displayed in front of where they have touched. They can dive down as deep as they like, without interrupting other people’s experiences with that screen. This is especially good when using very large touch-screen panels (60 inches and up).

Window Touch Films

An interesting technology is window touch films, which can turn your storefront window into an interactive touch-screen display, and have people from the outside interact with your inside display. This can be especially useful for after-hours use. A big benefit with this technology is that all your electronics are safely secured inside your environment.

A special USB, thru-glass, touch-screen film (also called foil) is used. It is simple to integrate with most commercial LCD and LED digital displays. Simply apply the touch-screen film to the inside of your glass window, and plug the USB or RS232 connection to your signage player. The thru-glass, touch-screen, film overlay works with substances such as water drops and other liquids on the touch surface.

Multi-touch Tables

A company called Ideum offers unique touch-enhanced applications for retailers using large-size tablets as tables in unique ways. A retailer can use this technology by having sales representatives sit with customers at a multi-touch table. Up to eight people can interact with the multi-touch table at the same time, making it perfect for multi-user applications. These tablets use the same projected capacitive touch technology found in popular tablets and smart phones. An integrated i7 PC workstation is securely locked in its base.

There are many creative uses for interactive tables of which a retailer can take advantage. For example, an eye-care retailer can sit with a customer and show frame styles, color features and more. A jeweler can use this to sit with a customer and design a piece of jewelry together. It can be used effectively to up-sell products and services. The uses are endless, and it provides a unique, engaging experience for the customer.

Non-touch Interactivity

Having interactivity with your digital signs doesn’t always require the use of a touch-screen display. There are many other unique ways to interact with digital signs. By creating unique marketing campaigns, you can bring your digital-signage network to new heights, and make for an interesting experience for your viewers.

By simply placing codes and numbers on your digital-sign content, you can get the viewer to interact with your messages. Some of these interactive concepts can be done without any additional hardware investment. You may also need your IT person to allow for the use of some of these concepts. But make sure your signage software can incorporate these interactivities as well.


About 77 percent of the U.S. population now owns a smartphone. By using a smartphone, you can interact with digital signs. Using SMS messaging and Bluetooth technology, your signage network can interact with your audience. With an SMS system, viewers can post messages, which can be instantly displayed on your signage. They can post comments, vote for something or send a text to get more information.

By adding Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability to your signage network, it will allow users to interact directly with what is being shown on the display. They can select a relative message choice, get additional information, make a selection or even purchase items from their smart phone. Make sure to check with the CMS vendors to find out what interaction can be accomplished with their software.

Customers can interact with signage by other unique means. You can integrate social and location-based interactivity, allowing customers to post information to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social sites, which can be shown instantly on your signage. You can also send information to the viewer’s smart phone. This can be used in a host of ways. In the second part of this article, I will discuss QR codes and some good examples of interactions with customers’ smartphones.


About Author

David Bawarsky, DSCE, is the author of Digital Signage Made Simple for Retailers. He has more than 35 years of experience in helping thousands of companies use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. He is currently the CEO of mySignageNow, a leading provider of digital signage solutions. He has been a technology entrepreneur throughout his career, creating and managing successful media companies. His companies have won many awards, including an “OBIE” (outdoor advertising’s Oscar) and has been featured in more than 1,900 newspapers, magazines and TV shows worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CNN, BBC, NBC’s “Today Show,” and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” For more information, visit

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