The touch screen, which is now widely used, may have a surface full of viruses and bacteria, and can make people sick. This is a particularly important issue in the current world environment, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to many deaths. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have been working on a new type of touchscreen, known as the “touchless touchscreen” and developed specifically for cars. The researchers believe that because it reduces the risk of surface-transmitted pathogens on the device, it can be widely used in the post-COVID-19 world. The patent behind the technology, known as “predictive touch,” is a technology they have developed in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover.
More and more vehicles now have touch-screen technology inside to control entertainment, navigation or temperature regulation, the researchers said. But one of the challenges is that users often miss touching the right items because of acceleration or road vibrations, and their attempts to correct touch errors often mean that their attention is removed from the road, which in turn affects driving safety.
Predictive touch technology allows users to hover over the choices they want to make and then make a choice. In laboratory and road-based trials using driving simulators, predictive touch technology can reduce interaction effort and time by up to 50%, due to the ability of this technology to predict user options with high precision early in the direction of tasks.
The researchers say the technology can be incorporated into smartphones and can be useful when walking or jogging. The technique is also well suited for patients with various tremors or sudden hand convulsions, such as Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy. It is unclear when the technology will enter the commercial market.