The iPhone not only forced the wireless industry to rethink how they made phones, it created a new paradigm for users, taking touch from the poor step-child of interactivity to a position front and center. Now it’s common to try to use touch controls on a device and be surprised when they DON’T work, something that was unthinkable only a few years ago.
But while touch screens have infiltrated our pockets, they haven’t lep out into the “real world” until now. Vancouver-based EPort produces touch-screen kiosks as its main business, but they’ve recently developed a new system that turns a glass window into a touch screen.
Interacting with the window is much like using an iPhone. Move your hands over icons and they respond to your commands. What you do with those icons depends on the application being used. One of the more popular applications of Eport kiosks is to send a video postcard to friends who couldn’t attend a live event, with marketing materials surrounding the video. When you send a postcard, you have the option of mailing it from the kiosk itself or ending it to your home email and then accessing your address list in private. But the possibilities are really only limited by the placing of the window. For instance, the display could run after a restaurant has closed, so that passersby could easily make a reservation right in front of the establishment, should they so choose.
In effect, the windows (and kiosks) act as fact-gathering devices, cataloguing demographic data while providing a service and maintaining a market presence. They even track where users touch the interface, and how often. But to an extent these real-world devices also provide a glimpse into the future of targeted, pervasive and personalized advertising, much like when Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report walks by advertisements that recognize him. We aren’t quite there yet, but the E port window certainly points to a world that’s about to become much more touch-sensitive.