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Could We Be Seeing The Emergence of ‘Touchless’ Tech?

Due to the coronavirus Pandemic, the UK has been under strict restrictions preventing social gatherings and close-contact. The public has been urged to cover their face when social distancing isn’t always possible and to treat hygiene with the upmost importance.

Most have been heavy reliant on digital and technology when it comes to conducting day to day activities. This includes the use of our smartphone to engage with apps and the internet. The UK is still being urged to be safe and vigilant; and as the UK slowly begins to find it’s way back to ‘normality’, could we see an emergence of ‘touchless tech’ in the future?

Senior vice-president of product and marketing at hand tracking and haptics company Ultraleap, Anders Hakfelt, recently spoke about how a touch-free interface could feel for the user.

“By using ultrasound, you can create small points of very high sound pressure that you can move around in space,“ he says. “By essentially modulating it at a frequency you can feel in your hands, you can create a sense of touch that’s invisible.“

Ultraleap acquired a US company called Motion that works on camera tracking and hand tracking technology, a year ago. “Using a small infrared camera, this tech can track your hands very accurately and it has a lot of applications. Out-of-home, for example, is just one area we’re working on. But by bringing these two technologies together, we can now create what is, effectively, a touchless interface.”

This would see the world of digital and technology evolve to a completely different level. This technology being used for day-to-day purposes, could also be used for entertainment too. Catherine Morgan, the director of outdoor media company Ocean’s innovation division, Ocean Labs says: “At Legoland, for example, you can go on a ride in 3D glasses and shoot lightning bolts at monitors and things like that, and that is done by hand tracking.

”You could go watch a movie about the sea and be able to feel droplets of water and waves on your hands, to go along with the sounds and the visuals.”

Although touchless-tech has been in the making for two years now, a huge part of that is down to public feedback that touchscreens are ‘unhygienic’.

Morgan went on to say: “Unsurprisingly, around 80% of people view touchscreens as quite unhygienic,“ Hakfelt points out. “However, when we show people video clips of how they might engage with contactless or touchless interfaces, they are overwhelmingly positive.”

The norm of touchless tech has been emerging slowly in recent years with the introduction of iPhone’s siri and Amazon’s Alexa. They have become convenient to use, with the user providing commands and the machine carrying out the action, leaving users heavily dependant on technology.

Morgan hints that we could see this technology fairly soon. It can really help those brands trying to cut through and stand out in the market at what’s always a busy time, so I’m feeling very optimistic.”

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