While of course giving a nod to the iPad and its ilk for being a game-changing phenomenon in the world of touchpanels, there are many features and functionalities that will keep the traditional touchpanel as the standard interface for a control and automation system in any number of verticals, especially corporate and higher education. Touchpanels of the future in the commercial environment will be found in new form factors, will find homes in new and unexpected places and will feature greater use as intercom systems.
Touchpanel devices are going to evolve to be more specialized than ever before. “A room touchpanel device is still going to be necessary because it is dedicated to the unique functionality of the room in which it sits,” says Joe Andrulis, vice president of Marketing at AMX. “Since it is not a general purpose device, it doesn’t have to compromise functionality to support a photo editing application or something else, which personal devices do.”
Crestron is rolling out its new intercom solution for its panels, Rava, which integrates with all the existing standards. By using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to establish connections, it can be integrated with any SIP-compliant server. Rava can be used without a server as it creates a peer-to-peer connection. In a corporate environment, it hooks up to the same phone system the desk phones work with, whether it be Cisco or Mytel.
At the boardroom table, the touchpanel can be used as a phone. It can also be used as an auxiliary phone while the existing audio or videoconference system is still in use. One of the other places it’s being used is for emergency broadcast. Somebody can push out an emergency broadcast message to all the panels in an organization.
With all the merging technologies out there, manufacturers try to anticipate what the next big things are going to be. Crestron’s Byron Wendling, technology manager, Touch Screens and User Interfaces, anticipates a movement away from physical conduits for media delivery. “There are different vehicles to deliver streaming audio or video,” says Wendling. “We are looking for solutions in that space and how to integrate streaming media with our environment.”
A touchpanel can accomplish many tasks in a boardroom or classroom, yet it is still a tool to serve the humans working or learning. The device needs to contribute positively without getting in the way. There had been a tendency to get larger screens in order to accommodate all the functionality possible without a multitude of page flips. “It becomes a big object sitting on your conference table,” says Andrulis at AMX. “It dominates the scene by becoming a point of focus for the meeting rather than a support to the meeting.”
In order to adapt the form factor of the device to fit the requirements of the application, AMX recently developed the Modero X Series of touchpanels. “We picked form factors that are conducive to collaboration,” says Andrulis. “We looked at the way the touchpanel can