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Displays Show the Right Touch

Education, signage choices expand

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston made use of DoubleTake Technologies’ large multi-user multi-touch interactive display system for its “edu-tainment” Space Shuttle wall exhibit.

Interactive display systems, also known as touchscreens, are one of the most instinctive and simple computer interfaces on the market. Let’s take a look at the utility of touchscreen technology within the government and education sectors.

Interactive display systems allow input from the user, while also providing output as feedback to the user. With this type of system, information is displayed in a more interactive and user friendly way than a standard display system. Touchscreens can come in a number of forms, such as touch product displays, digital wayfinders and interactive consumer engagement tools.

A touchscreen typically has easy-to-understand graphics with a touch sensitive screen that enables users to select an item on the screen. Features installed on a device with a touchscreen vary according to where the system will be used, however; for example, the features of a system used in the education sector will likely differ from those used in public service sectors.

Touchscreen displays used in schools often include information about learning resources, lesson schedules, information about drugs and healthy living, and can also provide advice and support on relevant issues such as bullying. Those used in the public sector tend to include information or statistics necessary for the smooth running of an organization and its systems.


In the education sector, touchscreens can play a key role in increasing the participation of students and helping to make lessons more visually appealing and interesting. They are also useful for people with learning disabilities and those who are unable to type or use a mouse.

People who have problems with posture are also catered for as the screens can be tilted either horizontally or vertically to suit their needs.

“Interactive display systems are a great visual learning tool for students,” said Marisa Bloomington, a middle school teacher in Kent, U.K. “In my classroom, we use a touchscreen monitor for history presentations.”

Promethean ActivPanel touchscreen displays are currently being used in schools at a variety of levels and for a range of subjects. The ActivPanel has 1080p image quality, a wear-resistant LED touch screen, and is available in 65- and 70-inch displays. It is particularly valuable for use in classrooms due to its wide viewing angle, as well high brightness that works in nearly any lighting condition.

Using interactive display systems, students and teachers are able to interact with images and content, which is perfect for beginning classroom discussions and getting students interested in the subjects they are learning. Interactive displays engage and benefit students by turning information and data into all kinds of images, which demand attention and also heighten interest. They can also enrich students’ sensory learning experiences.

GestureTek, an interactive technology company with its headquarters in Toronto, Canada, has interactive monitor technology that provides floor-to-ceiling interactive display surfaces for both touchscreen computing and touch-free display interaction. Users of these displays can control interactive multimedia content with simple and quick hand gestures.

Interactive display surfaces such as interactive walls and screens can be customarily configured with multi-touch interfaces so that more than one user can engage in the interaction. GestureTek played a key role in the development of “Serendipity,” the world’s largest multi-touch surface computing table, which is installed in the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, Australia. Such technology can also be found at New York City’s Visitor Center.

Samsung is a well-known display manufacturer with a range of interactive display systems used in the government and education sectors. Samsung promotes its 55F6400 touchscreen series as easy to install and simple to manage. Combined with a specially designed stand and a mini computer iStick with 3D acceleration, the 55F6400 is targeted at conference presentations and digital signage.


On the subject of digital signage, there are many manufacturers of rugged and reliable large displays that excel in signage applications, such as Panasonic, Sony, JVC, Plura, Planar, LG, ViewSonic, NEC, Sharp, TVLogic, Ruige and Christie Digital. Many of these companies offer interactive versions of their monitors, but not all digital signage requires interaction.

The Plura DBM-Series comes standard with auto calibration and alignment, and is available in a range of sizes from 40 to 70 inches. Its stability and remote capability make it a good choice for signage applications.

The Planar Ultra Res Touch is a 4K touchscreen display.

Planar’s Planar Ultra Res Touch is an 84-inch touchscreen with 3,840 x 2,160-pixel (4K) resolution, putting it at the leading edge of interactive display technology.

TVLogic’s digital signage display is the 46-inch FCM-461W-S1, which has a thin bezel that allows it to be used in multi-display configurations. Featuring a viewing angle of 178 degrees, the FCM-461 has a video response speed of 8ms for smooth video viewing.

Signage applications are growing in the public sector, but government often has unusual requirements that result in interesting applications of technology.

The United Nations recently took delivery of 52 Ruige TL-S1850HD 18.5-inch professional picture monitors to be used for translation services at the organization’s international headquarters in New York. This latest order follows the UN’s purchase of 73 TL-S1850HD monitors in December 2012.

“The Ruige TL-S1850HD monitors were originally selected after a very careful comparison of a wide range of displays,” said Jian Ma, general manager of Ruige. “They are being used primarily for videoconferencing, which saves a lot of people a lot of time and lot of travel.”

Government entities are increasingly using touchscreen technology in post offices, voting locations, and even museums or other government buildings. At the post office, touchscreen display systems are typically used at self-service kiosks. Voting locations also use an adaption of the kiosk in order to facilitate and quicken the voting process. A local courthouse might use an interactive digital display as a way to assist visitors to find their way around the building.

Such technology is also being used by the government sector in order to help improve services and enhance coordination at their various control centers. In service centers such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security offices, these products are used to reduce waiting times by providing text or video instructions to facilitate faster processing.

Some cities are installing interactive parking meters, such as this one from Municipal Parking Systems.

In an unusual application, touchscreens are being integrated into parking meters in cities such as Palisades Park, N.J. The city, in collaboration with a company called Municipal Parking Services, has installed touchscreen parking meters that can be used to pay parking fees, display alerts of missing children and provide emergency information regarding weather and other incidents.


Museums and other local attractions are steadily adopting interactive display systems as a way to increase audience engagement. For example, interactive display systems are commonly used in museums to display historical paintings or other forms of art.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, has an Interactive Art Exhibit that is equipped with touchscreen systems developed by DoubleTake Technologies. These screens enable users to touch and view information about historical paintings by American artists.

The exhibit comprises two DoubleTake DreamScreen 3000 transparent, acrylic rear-projection touch screens, which include custom branded colors and customizable software plus content. This extensive exhibition uses touchscreen technology to provide a revealing look at the ambitious, competitive and often unusual lives of artists.

DoubleTake Technologies also implemented its touch screen technology at the Houston Zoo.

“We are in final testing and training for a two-sided transparent touchscreen at the Houston Zoo that will have chimps touching one side of the screen and kids/visitors touching the other side,” said Ron Kerr, founder and chief experience architect at DoubleTake Technologies.

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The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., has gone to a whole new level with the integration of touchscreens into its exhibitions. The museums screens are multi-touch interactive display systems that enable visitors to view the collection of high-resolution photos, videos, games and audio, making the collection more accessible and available than ever before.

The museum boasts that it has the “World’s Premier Automobile Exhibition” and the touchscreens here provide access to high-resolution photos of the collection, which can be zoomed in on and viewed from 360 degrees. Visitors can also gain expert insights and background on many exhibits in the museum.

At the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., interactive technology has given visitors a new cutting edge look at the museum’s “Battle of Gettysburg” exhibition. This exhibit provides interactive maps to help visitors visualize the Pennsylvania battlefield during the Civil War.

The Smithsonian assigned a team of developers to design an interactive map display for Battle of Gettysburg exhibit, created with Geographical Information Systems information. The interactive map shows Confederate and Union troops’ battle movements by using digital mapping techniques to allow visitors to understand the mechanics of the battle, as well as learn about the war and its aftermath.

Interactive display systems have the potential to improve almost every aspect of our lives. They have beneficial applications in schools, museums, municipal sectors and government. They provide important information, improve connectivity, and make life much easier for people from all walks of life.