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To Touch, or Not to Touch?

Over the past 18 months, as the world’s population has struggled with the diverse effects of COVID-19, there’s been a drastic change in society’s attitudes to shared surfaces.

Results of a Foolproof survey, published in April 2020, and a survey carried out by Piplsay one year later, in April 2021, provide a picture of these changing attitudes and an insight into people’s expectations.

Touch technology

Touch technology has become part of everyday life. It crops up everywhere – in vending machines, delivery signatures, ATMs, food and retail ordering, lifts, railway ticket machines, train doors, supermarket checkouts, and many other applications.

Highly valued for qualities such as security and efficiency, touch technology has quite suddenly lost some of its shine. A new version to physical contact between people – both directly and indirectly – has rendered this relatively new technology less appealing. As COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions, the world began to shy away from “dirty technology”.

Protection against COVID-19

The aim of Foolproof’s survey was to understand how UK citizens expected their behaviour to change when life returned to normal after the national lockdown. Results revealed that 25% of respondents believed they’d use cash machines less often and 48% planned always to use contactless payment where the limit allowed. Just over half of all participants in the survey said that they’d wash or sanitise their hands immediately after using a public touchscreen.

Touchless technology

A reluctance among consumers to use shared touch technology has led to increasing demand for touchless technology. Carried forward on a wave of necessity, the touchless- technology industry has sailed swiftly into a new era.

Certain forms of touchless technology are well-established elements of public spaces.

Motion-sensor technology, triggered by an interruption or reflection of an infrared beam, has long been employed to open doors, flush toilets, turn on taps, lights, and hand driers, and activate air conditioning systems.

For some time, voice-recognition programmes have been employed in the healthcare sector for record-keeping and Internet access. Voice technology has come a long way since “Audrey”, the world’s first voice-recognition programme created by Bell Telephone Laboratories Inc. in 1952.

Whereas sensor technology operates in an “on-or-off” fashion, gesture control  works through computer algorithms that match up three-dimensional images of real-time gestures to digital items stored in a gesture library.

Protection against future viruses

Around 80% of people now consider public touchscreens to be unhygienic.

During the pandemic, there has developed an acute awareness of the ways in which viruses and other pathogens can be transmitted from person to person. With the potential for future epidemics and pandemics highlighted by the virulent spread of COVID-19, the additional hygiene measures we’ve adopted in the past 18 months have taken on a meaningful role beyond the parameters of this pandemic.

Of the 6,090 UK citizens who took part in the Piplsay poll in April 2021, 76% were comfortable with the increasing human-technology interaction, and 71% expected businesses to have touchless technology in place, post COVID-19. Approximately 44% say that their preference for touchless technology has increased during the pandemic, and 79% are more likely to choose touchless gesture control than a touchscreen.

Contact us

The gesture-controlled, smart-reporting Aqua Touchless  can help you and your staff monitor your sustainability programme. To talk to us about how this safe, easy-to-use dispense solution can help keep your staff and customers COVID-safe, call 0800 080 6696 or email For a quote, please complete the online quote form.

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