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Touch Screen Enables Simultaneous Operation of Multiple Controls


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Touch Screen Enables Simultaneous Operation of Multiple Controls

Shana Leonard

Anyone who has ever used a touch screen may be familiar with the frustration that can ensue when trying to enter multiple inputs at once. On typical touch screens, simultaneous touches tend to cancel each other out, resulting in a cursor on the screen somewhere between the two desired points. Developed in conjunction with TouchKO (Cedar Park, TX), GM Nameplate (Seattle) has produced a multizone five-wire touch screen technology that circumvents this common inconvenience, enabling the simultaneous operation of multiple controls on one screen.

Suited for complex operations involving multiple controls that must be regulated, the technology allows for up to four input zones on a single screen. "With the multizone touch screen application, if you were to press one finger in each of the four zones at the same time, you'd actually see four cursors on your screen at the same time," says Jim Badders, a GM Nameplate engineer.

Beyond bypassing a common touch screen plight, the technology may also simplify operations, according to the company. Owing to their flexibility in regards to compatible software packages, PC-based diagnostic and monitoring equipment are in demand. In turn, the market for touch screens has increased since they are often considered to be an easier user-interface device than keyboards, says Steve Baker, a medical device business development representative for the company.

"It lends to a strong flexibility working different software applications within one screen area where they can do multiple functions or monitoring of equipment or devices at one time," he adds.

The company cites operation room environments as suitable locales for the multizone touch screen technology. "A surgeon may have an area on the monitoring device that shows some patient situations, but he may also be working with a surgical pencil or drill where he wants to change the temperature setting or speed setting," Baker explains. The multiple zones allow the separate pieces of equipment to be pulled together as one control device, and several functions can be executed from one touch screen panel.

Based on a five-wire resistive technology, the touch screen operates by decoding or measuring a direct resistive circuit. A digital signal processor chip and custom controller are the key factors behind the technology and product flexibility.

"The technology can also allow them not only to just run software applications, but they can actually control different applications that are connected to that computer with the different zones or window applications that are running," Badders says. "It's very versatile; you can even drop and drag from one zone to another zone."

Another potential advantage of the product is consolidation of space and operations. GM Nameplate points out that in many offices, users may employ several computers or monitors to control different applications. However, the company claims that its technology could reduce clutter and combine functions by controlling up to four devices or applications using the one touch screen.

The touch screen has a projected actuation life of 35 million actuations, boasts no false actuations, and does not require a stylus to input information.

Copyright ©2006 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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