When a piece of technology is so new that there's no set playbook for the most successful implementation, it can be a blessing and a curse. On the upside, it means that marketers can stretch their imaginations without any preconceived notion about the right way to approach things, leading to success with ideas that would otherwise get shot down. On the downside, ideas about how a new piece of technology can facilitate a creative campaign can conflict with what's actually possible – and can even lead to jumping the gun and installing something that doesn't really work.
This is certainly true of the touch table. It's a technological innovation that is finally seeing its day and that could very well change the way we think about organizing spaces – at home, in offices, and in retail. But there's not a ton of conventional wisdom out there on how it can be used most effectively.
Before you start brainstorming how best to implement an interactive touch table, consider these three potential touch table disasters. They're simple things to lose track of in the excitement of exploring new technological possibilities, but keeping them in mind can save you and your clients a lot of frustration.
Using the wrong touch table for the job
What makes a touch table most different from a tablet? The fact that you set things down on it. This distinct use case makes for a whole different set of guidelines about how the screen should be implemented. Most obviously, you'll need to make sure that the screen you are using is thoroughly waterproof if you're installing it on a table where people will be placing – and probably spilling – drinks.
Scratch-resistance, resistance to shattering, and heat-sensitivity, are also important to take into consideration on a touch table. If you implement something that isn't durable enough for the way customers will be using it, you're setting your clients up to be saddled with a frustrating, frequently broken piece of expensive hardware.
Glare, too, is an important thing to take into consideration. If a touch table is going to be in a place like a restaurant, with very specific overhead lighting in an otherwise dark room, the light reflecting off of the touch screen could render it difficult to see -- and difficult to use. So using acid-etched, anti-glare glass is a must.
So think about how customers will actually use the touch table and proceed from there. Pay attention to how the light in the room strikes it during all times of the day, from the lights and the windows, and reconfigure the room if necessary to make sure that everything a customer needs to see on the screen is always visible. Don't put customers in a position where they have to dance around their intuitive behavior in order to use the touch table without breaking it, or cup their hands in front of the screen to use it.
Failing to consider size when implementing a touch table
We can all imagine someone buying a Christmas tree that is too big to fit through the door of a house, or that must be forced to bend sideways at the top against the living room ceiling. When dealing with touch tables, it's easy to develop the same impulse – to think that bigger is going to ultimately mean better, and go with the biggest, most impressive screen available.
But that's not necessarily true. If you've got a touch table that doesn't fit correctly in a room, it will end up staying in storage. Having a touch table that's too big can also limit its effectiveness for users. If people are supposed to do some sort of collaborative work on the table, it won't make much sense to have users placed ten feet away from each other. And implementing a touch table in which the on-screen information displays on an inconvenient part of the screen to reach, or the touch screen itself is situated incorrectly, can also make the experience of using it awkward and ineffective.
Imagine a touch table the size of a full conference room with the one button everybody needs to reach positioned right in the middle. Such a setup could require people to stretch, reach, and climb over one another, or run from one end of the table to the other. Such a setup can make people look silly -- and that's not something any professional will be happy about, regardless of the industry. So it's important that if a client is implementing a touch table for a single user at a time, the size of the screen and the table correspond to that use case.
Having a screen that's too small can likewise cause problems. If there's a personal-sized touch panel on a table, it's not going to be much use for multi-person collaboration.
So when you're working on a concept for a touch screen table, consider the size of the table, the size of the screen, the size of the room – and how they all work together as a final product.
Implementing a touch table without a proper content strategy
With touch tables, it's the software even more than the hardware that determines the function. If you set up a client's touch table with the idea that it will demonstrate their goods and services, but you don't have any of that information available in a format that the screen can make sense of, you're setting your client up for a touch table implementation that might never end up going live. Make sure your content strategy makes sense and is completely doable in concert with the hardware you're using.
/ Casey Dubbs, Marketing Manager for Horizon Display. Casey is a classic over-achiever who likes to get the job done right and can’t stand when things are left unfinished or with unmet potential. She is passionate about implementing others’ vision into reality. When she is not obsessing over marketing, she can be found on Pinterest trying to find recipes everyone in her family will eat.