Dec 2020
by Andreas Köster

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. In this, you should not only take the table’s design and general outward appearance into account, but its technical data sheet as well.

“Hardware” checklist multi-touch table:

  • Display resolution: There are many things you are going to want to display on your table, but individually visible pixels certainly are not one of them. Therefore UHD resolution (4.096 x 2.160 pixels) is mandatory for anything upwards from 43’’ display size.
  • Size of table and touchscreen: How many people shall the table accommodate, and how many users are supposed to interact simultaneously
  • Multi-touch technology: For many years now, PCAP or projected capacitive touch recognition (like in smartphones) has established itself as the gold standard in this field. The sensor should be able to discern and process as many parallel touch inputs as possible. Older technologies use infrared light (IR) or camera-based systems, which by comparison are less reliable and error-prone.
  • 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 based on their appearance 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 graphic effects and long‑lasting and sustainable (in terms of upgrade-able) technology, the decision for a high-performance gaming PC with dedicated graphic board and SSD hard disk is the right choice. Caution: smaller PCs integrated into the display screen usually are incapable of ensuring smooth and fluent multi-user interaction.
  • Maintenance: A modular construction of the table from standard components facilitates easy change and replacement of individual elements and thus sustainable utilization.
  • Warranty: How extensive is the legally required warranty, and what additional guarantee does the provider give beyond that?

Tip: A size of 55’’ is generally considered the most convenient and “natural”. Due to its optimal price-performance ratio (“value for money”), this currently is the standard size for most multi-touch tables on offer. 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. That’s the only way you’ll really be able to judge the feel and quality of the surface, the manufacturing quality, and the responsiveness of the touch screen. When you’re “face to face“ with the table, you’ll know straight away whether it is going to suit your purpose 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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