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Touchscreen enables fingertip factory operation

Siemens has launched a touchscreen for the operation of industrial facilities.

The system is especially designed for tough factory environments. The 19-inch touchscreen can recognise up to five fingers simultaneously.

The system uses projected capacitive touch technology, which means that users no longer have to apply pressure to the display.

Instead, the screen can be operated merely with the help of a weak electric field, which changes when a finger comes into contact with it.

It allows users to quickly and intuitively move and zoom image content. In the new system, Siemens is transferring the multiple finger and gesture operation techniques that are used in consumer electronics to industrial environments.

This can be a challenge. Whereas smartphones are generally only protected against relatively light impacts, systems for factory use have to be much more robust.

The touchscreens can be directly attached to machines or processing systems. This is why they are resistant to shocks and vibrations, and largely unaffected by electrical disruptions.

Cables allow the touchscreens to be operated up to 30 meters away from the control computers. In addition, the screens work at temperatures ranging from 5 degrees C to 50 degrees C.

The scratch-resistant glass in nonreflecting so that image content is readable at viewing angles of up to 170 degrees and regardless of incident light.

The front panel is made of diecast aluminium. The screen lighting can be adjusted in several steps to suit the operating environment.

In factories, it is important that workers do not accidentally operate equipment incorrectly. To prevent this from happening, the touch display can detect if the heel of someone's hand touches the surface by chance, in which case it doesn't trigger an action.

Electrically conducting metal splinters or drops of water do not generate signals either. To avoid such accidents, the display's software analyses how many sensor points are activated by a touch, and only responds if the pattern is like a fingertip.

Another of the industrial panel's special features is that users can operate it while wearing thin gloves.

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