AI-based ‘no-touch touchscreen’ could reduce risk of pathogen spread from surfaces

  Predictive touch  Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

A ‘no-touch touchscreen’ developed for use in cars could also have widespread applications in a post-COVID-19 world, by reducing the risk of transmission of pathogens on surfaces.

The patented technology, known as ‘predictive touch’, was developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge as part of a research collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover. It uses a combination of artificial intelligence and sensor technology to predict a user’s intended target on touchscreens and other interactive displays or control panels, selecting the correct item before the user’s hand reaches the display.

More and more passenger cars have touchscreen technology to control entertainment, navigation or temperature control systems. However, users can often miss the correct item – for example due to acceleration or vibrations from road conditions – and have to reselect, meaning that their attention is taken off the road, increasing the risk of an accident.

In lab-based tests, driving simulators and road-based trials, the predictive touch technology was able to reduce interaction effort and time by up to 50% due to its ability to predict the user’s intended target with high accuracy early in the pointing task.

As lockdown restrictions around the world continue to ease, the researchers say the technology could also be useful in a post-COVID-19 world. Many everyday consumer transactions are conducted using touchscreens: ticketing at rail stations or cinemas, ATMs, check-in kiosks at airports, self-service checkouts in supermarkets, as well as many industrial and manufacturing applications. Eliminating the need to actually touch a touchscreen or other interactive display could reduce the risk of spreading pathogens – such as the common cold, influenza or even coronavirus – from surfaces.

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Image:  Predictive touch

Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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