English (Global)

Luxury to Necessity

Boon Edam Blog | May 2020

Since the late 1890’s we have become a world obsessed with ‘contactless’ and ‘touchless’ technology, much of which has become a vital part of our current lives. Now with decades of experience, we have become pioneers in product creation and building design. Moving away from a reactive design approach, the public as a collective now dramatically influence pro-active solutions that better the lifestyles of many across the globe. 

We discuss the history of contactless tech, the future built environment and how contactless pathways in offices are becoming more of a requirement than ever before.

The History of Contactless

A small town in America first witnessed remote control technology in the form of a miniature remote-control boat back in 1897. This technology sent directional instructions through radio signals from remote to boat model. Not only did a remote-control boat start the niche hobby of boat modelling and competitions for the upper class, it also became a pivotal part of WW1 Naval Warfare. In the 1920’s entrepreneurs started to find remote control solutions that would enhance ‘laborious’ chores, which succeeded in electric garage doors.

Introducing Contactless in the Home

With radio signal technology entering the household more and more over the following two decades, the ‘Flash Matic’ remote control was introduced. A new control that utilised light to change channels on Televisions.  Gone were the days of manually changing the channel which eventually inspired the BBC to create Teletext in the 1970s. Teletext utilised Infrared Devices that created better browsing experiences for Television users in the UK. A pivotal moment for technology enthusiasts, the teletext grid was the first form of bulk user-experience (UX) design.

Introducing Contactless to the Wider Environment

Now that technology had penetrated the family home, the transition of touchless externally in the generic-use sense, became a much more seamless integration. Barcode scanning was welcomed with open arms in the late 1970s, as it provided a time-saving solution for business owners and employees alike. Solutions were becoming more problem solving for the general public, which lead the RFID patenting by Charles Walton. Radio Frequency Identification technology has become a pivotal part of society helping to create frictionless user experiences as well as secure, monitor and track information. RFID and NFC really lay the foundation to the touchless technology we know of today, helping to prevent thefts and monitor risks in millions of buildings world-wide.

Over the past 100 years we have seen communication, transportation, currency and even security digitalised, all working hand-in-hand together to enhance accessibility. Discover how we have been developing touchless technology since 2001 to create safer more monitorable access solutions here.

The Future of Contactless in Office Design

Here we highlight the already available technologies that could be seen more and more in the physical workplace:

Smartphone Control

Smartphones have gradually integrated touchless technology into everyone’s lives for many years. The ability to control public devices through a personal device has already proved to be a successful method of touchless access. Since we are already accustomed to using smartphones, learning time to navigate systems or apps are dramatically cut. Smartphone utilisation regardless of it not being a revolutionary solution is a natural progression and therefore a realistic evolution into the physical workplace.

Zaha Hadid Architect’s Bee’ha Headquarters infamously introduced smartphone control technology, creating ‘contactless pathways’ throughout the building. Employees, therefore, rarely touch a surface from entry to destination when navigating the building. To create a true contactless experience, lifts are called via smartphones along with checking in.

Gesture Technology

When looking at touch technology, we have to look at the common language associated with the interaction, and how we can change that language to be completely touchless. For example, shared log-in screens and doors can be opened via a gesture. Motion devices and sensors allow for this, which is common regarding building entry, but not so common within the internal workplace. As mentioned above, even smartphones rely on touch, so the way in which we interact with products might be a habit hard to crack.

Did you know that the Gesture recognition market has an estimated market worth of $32.3 billion [£26 billion] in 2025?

Voice Activation 

With the introduction to normalising voice activation through Siri, Cortana, Google and Alexa, the shift from touch to voice activation will become more seamless. This method of integration has been successful since the introduction of remote-control technology. The gradual transformation of voice control has even left the internal household through doorbells and other external environments.

Much progression pays homage to smartphones and the technology that they have been able to normalise voice control. We’re already comfortable asking devices to book us appointments and reschedule meetings. The automotive industry has also benefited from voice activation in cars, from instructing navigation to directing a call. This technology could be the big evolution over the next few years, as it falls under a natural progression into the workplace.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is already widely used across the world, encouraging innovative developments into AI. Currently, recognition technology is used more as a security feature than a generic use feature. The possibilities of it having more use in the workplace, however, is ever increasing. Systems have the ability to notice users automatically, whether that be entering a building or a secured area. This hosts a range of opportunities for product manufacturers to create products that could work in relation to user specific information. This information could set authorisation into certain building areas and give/revoke control over certain workplace objects.

Did you know that the Touchless sending market has an estimated market worth of $15.3 billion [£12.3 billion] in 2025?

Consider Additional Safety at your Entrance

With all that is going on today, and with the rapid developments in touchless technologies ramping up during the latest global pandemic, it could be beneficial to look at installing or upgrading a touchless entry solution to your building. You would be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate a safe, hands-free solution here. Download the brochure to find out about more specific products and be inspired by the Touchless possibilities or talk to an entry expert about your specific needs.

In our next blog, we dive deeper into the critical topic of facial recognition and learn how the future of Touchless is evolving around this cutting-edge innovation.

Tandi Rowe
Tandi is a Marketing Manager at Boon Edam's headquarters in The Netherlands.