Dec 2020
by Andreas Will

Multi-touch Table – Define the Hardware

Define multitouch table hardware

This part of our guideline is all about the multi-touch table itself, i.e., about the physical object – or piece of furniture, if you will – you and your target audience can touch, feel, and see. You should consider not only the design and general appearance of the table, but also the technical data sheet.

“Hardware” checklist multi-touch table:

  • Display resolution: There are many things you want to see on your table, but individually visible pixels are certainly not one of them. That is why UHD resolution (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) is a must for anything over 43″.
  • Table and touchscreen size: How many people will be at the table and how many users will be interacting at the same time.
  • Multi-touch technology: For many years, PCAP or projected capacitive touch recognition (as in smartphones) has been the gold standard in this area. The sensor should be able to detect and process as many parallel touch inputs as possible. Older technologies use infrared (IR) or camera-based systems, which are less reliable and prone to error.
  • Object recognition: Especially when it comes to highly individualized multi-touch concepts, interactivity is often enhanced by means of haptic/tangible objects. This fun and powerful feature can be achieved by means of one or a combination of the following technologies:
    • Capacitive markers: Objects with a conductive layer on their underside can be placed on the table’s surface. Recognition of their position and movement then happens automatically and reliably.
    • RFID: If product samples or other objects are equipped with a RFID chip (e.g., on a sticker) the table’s integrated reader responds to it. Within a pre-defined range, the object then is able to trigger content stored in the software.
    • Optical readers: Camera-based systems detect and capture print flyers, business cards, and other objects and then trigger various actions on the table.
  • Design: At least the color of the table, but ideally its materials and style, too, should adequately reflect your business and its corporate identity. Make sure to ask for reversible branding options and invisible cable management!
  • Manufacturing quality: With components designed for 24/7 operation you are prepared for each and every use case. Especially frequent transportation and use on trade shows require sturdy and robust hardware. Also, you should inquire about the table’s steadiness and stability against someone leaning against or on (or even sitting on) it as well as about its fire resistance rating!
  • Safeguards against vandalism: If the table is going to run mostly unattended, vandalism‑proof connections and switches are indispensable.
  • Mobility: How simple and convenient is assembly and transportation of the table? With how much time for dismounting and reassembling it do you have to calculate? Which transport boxes or flight cases are available?
  • Integrated PC: If you’re looking for attractive graphical effects and long-lasting, future-proof (in terms of upgradeability) technology, a high-performance gaming PC with a dedicated graphics card and SSD hard drive is the way to go. Beware: smaller PCs integrated into the display are usually not able to provide smooth and fluid multi-user interaction.
  • Maintenance: The modular design of the table, using standard components, makes it easy to change and replace individual elements, ensuring a long service life.
  • Warranty: How extensive is the statutory warranty and what additional warranty does the supplier offer?

Tips for planning of a multi-touch table

Tip: A size of 55’’ is generally considered the most convenient and “natural”. Due to its optimal price-performance ratio (“value for money”), this is the standard size for most multi-touch tables. Common sizes are:

  • 43’’ (1,08 m display size): suitable for 1 or 2 active simultaneous users
  • 55’’ (1,39 m display size): 2–4 users
  • 65’’ (1,64 m display size): 4–6 users

Tip: If possible, prior to purchase convince yourself in person of your favorite multi-touch table model’s quality.It’s the only way you can really judge the feel and quality of the surface, the build quality and the responsiveness of the touchscreen. When you’re ‘face to face’ with the table, you’ll know immediately whether it’s up to the job or not.

Tip: Should you want to build your own multi-touch table. The Japanese manufacturer iiyama offers basic multi-touch screens with a good price-performance ratio also available to end customers.

This blog entry is an excerpt from the comprehensive white paper “In 8 steps to a successful multi-touch table project”. If you would like to receive the whitepaper for free, please send an email with the subject “whitepaper” to info@garamantis.com.

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