Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Touch screens provide help for psychiatric patients

Steve Rogerson
December 1, 2014
Dutch medical technology company Recornect has placed a contract with touchscreen manufacturer Zytronic for its large format, highly robust projected capacitive products to help psychiatric patients in acute or long-term care facilities.

Through its Benelux based distribution partner Telerex, the company has been contracted to supply Recornect with bespoke design 81, 117 and 140cm multi-touch sensors for its communications wall system.

The Cowall displays let patients control various aspects of their living space while under supervised care. This can include choosing different forms of entertainment, changing the ambient lighting, or conversing with family and friends as well as members of the medical team. The accessible applications can be changed by the care giver, depending on the individual case and patient needs, for example, radio, games, videos, music and drawing apps, as well as a secure communications system can all be made available.

While Cowall provides the patient with entertainment options, the system also collects useful data, which support staff, enabling them to monitor the patient’s condition, assess their recovery and modify their treatment accordingly.

“The aim of Cowall was to give patients the sort of superior user experience expected when operating smartphones or tablets, just on a much larger scale,” said Cor Datema, co-founder of Recornect. “We found Zytronic’s product far more reliable than those from other touch sensor manufacturers, offering better accuracy and response rate, with no lag being witnessed. It also exhibited the touch performance required despite the thick glass, whereas other sensors struggled.”

It was imperative for the end users and environment where the touch sensors are deployed that the Cowall system must be free from projecting parts, bezels, switches and buttons that could potentially be damaged by acts of aggression or cause self-harm. During the course of this project, front glass thicknesses up to 17mm were tested by Recornect to ensure the suitability of the product. The highly sensitive, rugged multi-touch technology was chosen as it is able to determine touch events, even through the 12mm thick protective front glass incorporated into the final Cowall touchscreen design.

Each touch sensor consists of an intricate metal matrix (10µm in diameter) embedded into a laminated substrate, which can be further placed behind a thick glass or polycarbonate overlay. This safeguards the touch sensing matrix against deliberate and unintentional damage of all forms. As a result, user interfaces employing these touch sensors maintain their optimal performance in even the most demanding of working environments.

In addition, the touch sensors dispense with the need to include bulky unattractive bezels. This provides a benefit over touch technologies such as infra-red, surface acoustic wave and camera based touchscreens, all of which need protruding frames or gaps. This means Zytronic can provide an aesthetically pleasing, water-tight, safer, smooth-fronted touch screen, which is easy to clean and prevents build-up of dirt and germs.

“Cowall is a really novel use of touchscreen technology,” said Ian Crosby, sales and marketing director at Zytronic. “Allowing more control to be given to patients has been demonstrated to reduce their convalescence and improve their quality of life whilst within a secure environment. Patients can interact with the outside world using a safe, intuitive interface with minimal risk to themselves or carers.”