Touchless Technology: 2021 Outlook

Touchless Technology: 2021 Outlook

Feb 09, 2021 - 3 min read

Touchless technology is becoming more and more a part of everyday life. It’s used in computer games, communication and media technology, assistance technology, and security. And in response to the covid-19 pandemic during 2020, touchless technology has been employed more than ever in the field of hygiene – in a battle against the spread of microorganisms.

Touchless sensing

Before 2020, motion sensors had already become a familiar feature of public places. Toilet flushes, soap dispensers, water dispensers, hand driers, air conditioners, lights … All can be operated by means of a signal triggered by an interruption or a reflection of an infrared beam.

Automatic doors are also a well-established appliance of touchless technology. Whereas convenience is traditionally the motive for automatic doors, these marvellous pieces of machinery are coming into their own as a health benefit. This year, walking through an automatic door has taken on a new significance; it’s one more shared surface that we don’t have to touch.

Gesture recognition

Gesture recognition goes that step further. Whereas sensor technology reacts in a basic on/off fashion (to sense or not to sense), gesture recognition technology works on computer algorithms that match 3D images of real-time gestures to items stored in a gesture library. When a perfect match is found for a specific gesture, the corelating command is executed.

Gesture recognition technology first made an appearance in the 1970s, and since then, it’s come on in leaps and bounds, driven by the gaming industry.

Just like with touchless sensing, gesture recognition is taking on a new role. Viral contamination via skin – particularly hands – is a concern that’s recently become a priority concern, and touchless technology has an important part to play in providing alternative means of operating devices in shared spaces.

Take, for instance, The Boiling Tap Company’s Touchless Dispense. This piece of technology works in tandem with two of the highest-performing taps on the market today (the illimani three-in-one tap and the modular TaoZen tap) and an industry-leading bottling system (the TaoHydration station), which is capable of dispensing up to 180 litres of pure water every hour. With Touchless Dispense, the outlets are controlled via touchless gestures, allowing staff, customers, and visitors to take full advantage of the water-dispenser system without making physical contact with shared surfaces.


Fingerprinting as a means of signature has been used in various parts of the world for hundreds of years. As a means of forensic identification, it first came into use in the UK in the 1890s. The first person to be convicted on the strength of fingerprint evidence was 41-year-old Harry Jackson, who, on being found guilty of stealing billiard balls, was imprisoned in 1902.

Today, more than 100 years on, fingerprint recognition can be a touchless process. This secure and convenient method of authorisation will no doubt be opening many doors – both physical and metaphorical – in the very near future.

Voice recognition

Voice recognition made its debut appearance in 1952 in the form of “Audrey” by the American telecommunications company, Bell Telephone Laboratories Inc. Ten years later, Audrey was outshone by IBM’s Shoebox system, which had the ability to recognise 16 words.

The four major voice-recognition programmes – Alexa (Amazon), Voice Search (Google), Siri (Apple), and Cortana (Microsoft) – have opened up worlds of opportunities for the elderly, physically disabled, and visually impaired.

Among their many functions, these devices allow the user to convert spoken language into printed text, carry out Internet searches, set reminders and alarms, and order take-away meals.

Personal devices

Mobile phones are rapidly becoming indispensable tools.

Via our mobile devices, we can create connections, checks, and records. By scanning QR (quick response) codes, RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, and electronic chips, we can track products, invoices, payments, and documentation. All with minimum touch and a reduced risk of transmitting covid-19.

Technology rises to the challenge

The covid-19 pandemic has accelerated certain trends that might otherwise have taken a few more years to reach the point we’re at now. The concept of hygiene has taken on a new dimension, and technology has risen to the challenge of meeting new needs.

TBTC’s water-dispenser systems have always delivered 100% purified water, free from waterborne bacteria and viruses. Now you can enjoy extra protection with Touchless Dispense.