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Touchless interactions

A broad range of different ways to interact with devices without having to physically touch them.

The COVID pandemic has heightened interest in input methods that don’t require users to physically interact with a device in order to control it. This encompasses a variety of input methods, including voice and gesture recognition.

What is it?

A broad range of different ways to interact with devices without having to physically touch them.

What’s in it for you?

Touchless interactions may prove popular with cleanliness-conscious consumers and for those situations where it’s impractical to use your hands.

What are the trade-offs?

You may need to consider how your back-end systems will capture nuanced or ambiguous information about touchless interactions.

How is it being used?

Many consumers are accustomed to giving vocal instructions to Siri, Alexa and the like. Some cars are starting to recognize gestures as a means of control.

What is it?

A range of techniques — such as voice and gesture recognition — that enable users to interact with devices without needing to physically touch them. 

Many consumers are already familiar with using voice commands to control digital assistants, such as Siri and Alexa. Similarly, many cars come with voice-enabled controls, some are even trying out gesture controls.

The COVID pandemic is likely to have heightened interest in touchless interactions — many of us harbor concerns about using public screens, which are difficult to sanitize.

What’s in for you?

As technology becomes more pervasive in our lives, the old notion of input via a keyboard becomes increasingly anachronistic. Touchless interactions could, in many circumstances, help you deliver a better customer experience — according to one study 59% of consumers prefer using voice-based interfaces in public places such as shops, banks, and government offices. Where you have devices operating in public spaces, customer concerns over sharing interfaces is likely to heightened for some time.

What are the trade offs?

Many of today’s back-end systems were designed to capture physical data entry. If you were to, say, switch to a voice-based ordering system, you need to think about how you capture that information and design that interaction. Will you need to refactor existing systems to allow for touchless interactions?

Currently, many touchless interfaces are being developed independently. For something like gesture control, consumers may be less willing to adopt if there isn’t some standardization on what actions gestures are likely to produce.

And as of today, much of the technology is imperfect. Voice recognition often fails in noisy environments; gesture controls aren’t always accurate in poor lighting.

How is it being used?

Touchless interactions such as voice control are a common method of interacting with home gaming systems, digital assistants and in-car infotainment. And smartphones, with their pinch-to-zoom control, or swiping left have introduced many consumers to the ideas of gesture control.

There’s likely to be increased interest in touchless interactions for some time to come.

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