Home Technology Will Touchless Interaction Be Big Even After COVID-19?

Will Touchless Interaction Be Big Even After COVID-19?

2020 was a big year for touchscreens, but sadly not in a good way. In fact, touchscreens were under scrutiny for poor hygiene long before COVID-19 emerged. But last year, they were really thrown into the spotlight. Although, one could argue that the elevated hygiene standard we’re faced with today has done them a bit of good for they’re cleaner than they’ve ever been. And it’s likely this elevated standard will stick around once the pandemic is over.

While 2020 nearly killed touchscreen interaction, 2021 has breathed life into touchless interaction. It’s all the rage, despite the intricate steps it demands of the user. But is touchless interaction so prominent solely because of the coronavirus pandemic? Or will it stay around long after the pandemic becomes history?  

Touchless interaction dominates 2021

It only makes sense, does it not? 2020 was the year that made touchscreen interaction dangerous. Touchless interactive technology has helped bypass that danger and fear while it enables businesses to pull in consumers to interact safely. For instance, the Galt Museum and Archives in Alberta, Canada, allows users to activate touchscreens without touch. Apart from that, there are numerous methods for touchless interaction available today. This includes proximity sensors, facial recognition, virtual keyboards, and, of course, QR codes.

It’s safe to say COVID-19 threw the wrench in the works of tech development. We likely wouldn’t have gotten such a sharp rise in touchless technology had it not been for the pandemic. As the general public continues to appreciate and absorb it into daily life, it is very likely touchless interaction will become a regular part of our lives even when the pandemic is over. 

If you ask me, though, I doubt the pandemic will permanently make us afraid of touching things outdoors, including touchscreens. For the first months and maybe years afterwards, yes, we will think twice. However, just a few centuries ago, humanity learned of bacteria causing disease. While our hygiene standards have risen significantly since then, we will never be able to fully avoid them. We’ve become more agile at removing dirt. So, instead of never touching a public display, the norm now is to simply clean your hands afterwards.    

COVID-19 and touchscreens

Any business that used interactivity as a road to more information for and about their customers knows how hard it can be to actually get people to interact. For this purpose, businesses employed touchscreens. Ever since COVID-19 appeared though, the willingness to interact with a touchscreen has dropped to nearly zero. So what’s a business eager for customer info to do? Should they give up on touchscreens altogether?

Of course not. Interaction through touchscreens has weakened, but it has not gone extinct. Within the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most dreaded touching anything in public, let alone a touchscreen. But as months passed the standard for cleanliness rose. Also, as we learned more about the virus we managed our interaction better, knowing all it took to make a touchscreen safe was to wash or sanitize our hands afterwards.

A display of masks and hand sanitizers

While touchscreens have and continue to suffer at the hands of COVID-19, it is unlikely this will be the blow that puts them permanently out of commission. The pandemic will come to an end at one point. It might not be as soon as we hope, but that time will come. And with it, touchscreens will likely return to the forefront of outdoor interaction. Let’s face it. They’re the simplest and quickest way to do it at this time.

How businesses can take advantage of COVID-19

As touchscreens are temporarily on the bench, other forms of interaction have emerged. Of course, controlling displays through smartphone Apps, Social Media, and QR codes had been around already. But while COVID-19 dethroned touchscreens as a highly appealing interactive solution, these solutions became more appealing to the public.

This is an excellent opportunity for businesses to get consumers accustomed to using these types of interaction. Touchscreens were excellent and practical for the consumer, but businesses can get an even easier path to valuable analytics through other interaction methods, such as Social Media or a download of an App. Make the best of this extraordinary time by inviting consumers to interact via these methods, for they’re currently more willing to use them over touchscreens. When the time comes when COVID-19 is no more and touchscreens make a comeback into the spotlight, the consumer will be already comfortable with interaction in other ways. These can then make touchscreen interaction more fruitful. The user will by then be more comfortable and familiar on how to, say, share the results of an interactive touchscreen game on their social media.

Several individuals using smartphones

Digital signage software can be a great and easy to do way for businesses to connect consumers with interaction opportunities through touchless methods, such as QR codes, Social Media, and downloads. One such solution is OnSign TV, which offers a plethora of tools to engage with the consumer, touch-free. Try it out for 14 days, for free! No credit card needed.


Aks Kojic
Aks has been a writer in the digital signage world for over 5 years, bringing you the best of cases and news this industry has to show. Thoughts or suggestions on topics you'd like to see? Drop him an email at aks@onsign.tv.


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