“Come on, come on, come on now touch me babe!”

Maybe Jim Morrison had it right way back in 1969 – a simple touch can change things. Seems we’re hearing more and more about LED touchscreen displays lately, but is this just the next passing fad, or does touch have potential to be a reality in 2017 and beyond?

First, a little history. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, there was plenty of research on the use of touchscreens, but not much practical application. The 1980s saw limited use of touchscreens in airliner cockpits and point-of-sale terminals, but little else. We started to see them on ATMs and even on special use computers. Then, in the ’90s and 2000s we saw a big expansion in small format devices such as the Palm Pilot and the like.

That all changed dramatically on January 9th, 2007. The introduction of Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone blew minds, and truly changed our perception of personal computing devices forever. The biggest physical feature was multi-touch. Not that the concept hadn’t been explored before, but never was it so democratized, socialized and approachable. Almost instantly, everyone who tried an iPhone came away with a shifted idea of how we interact with information.

As the technology of Iphones infiltrated our society, many in the LED industry began to wonder, “If it’s good in your pocket, it must be GREAT on a wall!” Well, not so much. Everyone’s fervor for touch interaction drove some interesting-but-not-lasting installations. You know the kind – huge interactive walls where you pop the balloon or whatever. But the problem is twofold: first of all, most of these were designed for children while the displays were seven feet tall; or when designed for adults, people felt a little goofy standing so close to a wall and trying, usually in vain, to manipulate some object briefly before giving up and slinking away. These installations can work in museums or science centers, but they all too often fail in places like airports or corporate lobbies. Second, with many LED displays, if you’re close enough to touch them directly, you’re a little too close for the video to look good. Don’t forget, most LED displays look best from a little distance away.

So when does touch make sense for a video wall installation? Well, remember that massively democratized device everyone seems to already have on their person? There are plenty of agencies successfully doing mobile integration, where not only are people more comfortable interacting with a device that they interact with constantly anyway, but now your installation operates through one display-to-many users and not one display-to-one somewhat silly looking user. But there are some incredible advances that make touch directly on the videowall a better proposition these days. Chiefly, with pixel pitches dropping to near LCD levels, the prospects of touching and seeing an LED touchscreen display makes much more sense. And with these higher resolution displays, the size of LED displays are being installed at much smaller dimensions than the massive installations of just a year or two ago. It now makes sense to change out a projection wall or 2×2 LCD wall with a bright, fine pitch LED system, making these multi-touch and newly developed systems a very compelling solution now.

Nanolumens recognized that the dream of interacting with information on a touch display was not as far as we were all led to believe and, as of this past month, has installed in several high profile locations, our very own touch-enabled fine pixel pitch technology as a part of our Engage Series LED displays. NanoLumens touch-enabled displays offer a true glassless solution that is also seamless, smooth, and front serviceable.  NanoLumens has been working on refining its touch technology for the last several years and, as a result, is able to simultaneously announce the availability of the technology and the fact that displays featuring the technology are already operational at customer locations.

The new touch technology brings a new level of interaction to corporate boardrooms and other shared work spaces where collaboration on projects, training and even video chatting are becoming a main stay. To read more about the new Touch technology from NanoLumens, check out our recent press release here.