The new normal: Touchscreen hygiene in a post-COVID-19 world

In today’s world, we increasingly rely on touchscreen technology to perform day-to-day tasks of life – calling a colleague or friend, ordering food from self-service kiosks, ATM transactions and a myriad of other use of publicly installed interactive kiosks. A lot of service industries indeed rely on touchscreens for their operations, providing both choice and convenience for their customers. 

Touted as efficient and time-saving, these surfaces are touched by countless people and steadily collect bacteria and germs as the day progresses. Most of these bacteria originate from people’s mouth, nose, gut and faeces as a result of poor hygiene. So how can we maintain a good hygiene level in surfaces as often-touched as public touchscreens?

Our changing perspective

Even before the current COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a growing concern over the hygiene of public touchscreens. A report revealed that out of all touchscreens swabbed at multiple McDonald’s stores across the UK, traces of E. coli have been found on every single one

The results were met with gasps and brought up questions surrounding the hygiene of public touchscreens. With a study showing that 95% of people aren’t washing their hands correctly (long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), frequent wiping throughout the day proved to be not effective enough to stop the spread of bacteria and viruses that can cause disease and infections. 

Promoting hygiene through touchscreens

In light of the current pandemic, it is clear that we need to up our efforts, finding other ways to make sure touch screens don’t become a breeding ground, as we increasingly rely on them in this modern age. After all, the installation of interactive kiosks reduces the need for face-to-face interaction. This comes as a tick for maintaining social distancing efforts for the containment of COVID-19 and other threats to public health.

In addition to that, touchscreens are much easier to clean than traditional mechanical buttons (think bulky ATM buttons). As touchscreens are often a flat surface, this provides less “nooks and crannies” where nasty bacterias and viruses can lurk. 

Best practices for touchscreen hygiene

Despite all the advantages of the touchscreen, it is clear that some improvements in maintenance need to be made to ensure that they are indeed a safe and secure alternative to more traditional machines or face-to-face interactions.

So what are some ways we can do?

    1. Introducing a more rigorous cleaning schedule that includes disinfection – not simply wiping down with a generic cleaning spray.
    2. Installing edge-to-edge flushed screens with no bezel/frame. This would make the cleaning & disinfecting process far easier, as bacteria and viruses are often harboured on edges and forgotten nooks.
    3. Making sure your touchscreen technology is equipped with capacitive touch and can respond to a glove or stylus. This provides users with more options to interact with the screen.
    4. Many solution providers are coming up with gesture-based screen technology that allows users to interact through gesture and movement. This is an excellent option to not only lessen physical contact with screens, but also convert existing screens to contactless solutions. However, there may be challenges in user adoption and understanding.
    5. Specialist antimicrobial coatings are available, both in the form of antimicrobial screen protectors or ‘baked-in’ the glass. Antimicrobial coatings protect the screen and stop the growth of bacteria, some patents are also effective against the human coronavirus. Once installed, these antimicrobial screens require no chemical cleaners for disinfection.

     

    Creating a smarter future

    The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining proper hygiene practices and social distancing, more importantly in public areas. When smartly implemented, combined with effective cleaning/antimicrobial procedures, touchscreens for interactive kiosks can effectively contribute to these efforts.

    Now is the time to truly reflect on ways we can improve our safety measures and protocol, for the betterment of society and public health. To learn more about how to safely clean and sanitise your touchscreens, we have downloadable guide for you!

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