Robust touchscreen suits acute & long-term psychiatric care

27th November 2014
Barney Scott

Touchscreen manufacturer Zytronic’s large format projected capacitive products have been specified for use within the medical sector. Through its distribution partner Telerex, the company has been contracted to supply Recornect with bespoke design 32, 46 and 55" multi-touch sensors for its ground-breaking communication wall system, developed to help psychiatric patients in acute or long-term care facilities.

The Cowall displays enable patients to control various aspects of their living space while under supervised care. This can include choosing different forms of entertainment, changing the ambient lighting, or conversing with family/friends as well as members of the medical team. The accessible apps can be changed by the care giver, depending on the individual case and patient needs. Apps including radio, games, videos, music and drawing, as well as a secure communication system, can all be made available. While Cowall provides the patient with entertainment options, the system also collects useful data which supports staff, enabling them to monitor the patient’s condition, assess their recovery and modify their treatment accordingly.

It was imperative for the end users and environment where the touch sensor are deployed, that the Cowall system must be free from projecting parts, bezels, switches and buttons that could potentially be damaged by acts of aggression or cause self-harm. During the course of this project, front glass thicknesses up to 17mm were tested by Recornect to ensure the suitability of the product. Zytronic’s highly sensitive, rugged multi-touch technology was chosen as it is able to determine touch events, even though the 12mm thick protective front glass incorporated into the final Cowall touchscreen design.

Each Zytronic touch sensor consists of an intricate metal matrix, just 10μm in diameter, embedded into a laminated substrate, which can be further placed behind a thick glass or polycarbonate overlay. This safeguards the touch sensing matrix against both deliberate and accidental damage. As a result, UIs employing these touch sensors maintain their optimal performance in even the most demanding of working environments.

In addition, Zytronic touch sensors dispense with the need to include bulky, unattractive bezels, providing a real benefit over alternative touch technologies such as IR, surface acoustic wave and camera based touchscreens, all of which need protruding frames or gaps .This means Zytronic can offer an aesthetically-pleasing, water tight, smooth-fronted touch screen, which is easy to clean and prevents build-up of dirt and germs.

“Cowall is a really novel use of touchscreen technology. Allowing more control to be given to patients has been demonstrated to reduce their convalescence and improve their quality of life whilst within a secure environment. Patients can interact with the outside world using a safe, intuitive interface with minimal risk to themselves or carers,” stated Ian Crosby, Sales & Marketing Director, Zytronic.

“The aim of Cowall was to give patients the sort of superior user experience expected when operating smartphones or tablets, just on a much larger scale,” added Cor Datema, Co-founder, Recornect. “We found Zytronic’s product far more reliable than those from other touch sensor manufacturers, offering better accuracy and response rate, with no lag being witnessed. It also exhibited the touch performance required despite the thick glass, whereas other sensors struggled.”

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