How Long Should I Expect my Touchscreen to Last?

BY Chris Lee

The touchscreen is the user’s window into your application, exhibit, or interactive experience. If the display quality, color balance, backlight uniformity, or touch responsiveness is less than perfect, the user will notice immediately. When nearly everyone has a high-performance multi-touch screen device in their pocket, they expect the same or better performance from any large touchscreen they encounter in a museum, library, or corporate environment.

At Anode, we specify only commercial-grade touchscreen monitors for our projects. These monitors are engineered from the ground up for extended 24×7 commercial use, and come standard with a durable metal bezel, a replaceable backlight, and a thick glass panel. At double the brightness of standard televisions, they display vibrant images and messaging that captivate the attention of any audience. All these features are particularly essential to any interactive display placed in a public setting where it is important that the interactive encompasses elements to draw an audience as well as sustain user attention throughout the entire experience. The importance of using a monitor with these commercial-quality criteria cannot be understated.

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These 4:3 ratio touchscreen displays ran for approximately 12 years before being replaced with spares at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Good commercial-grade large format LCD touchscreen monitors come with a minimum 50,000 hour demonstrated MTBF rating (mean time between failure) from the manufacturer. This equates to the monitor running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for almost 6 years. We have touchscreens running in some customer installations in the field that are still going strong after 8 or more years.

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The Fort Negley visitors center has two Philips displays with Elo touch overlays. Last year, one of the touch components finally stopped working after 8 years of use by countless school and community groups.

Of course other factors can affect this number, such as environmental conditions, power quality, and aggressive user interaction to name a few. However, an equivalent size consumer-grade television or computer monitor has none of the commercial-grade features and would last less than a year if subjected to the same duty cycle and operating conditions.

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These NEC displays with Horizon touch overlays have remained functional since the grand opening of the Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks facility in 2011.

By investing in high-quality equipment from the beginning, your hardware may actually outlive your content–or allow you the flexibility to update your software without incurring the cost of modifying your installation. The photos below show the same Planar display at Adrian College in 2013 and 2015. The initial software application used only single-point interactions. Two years laters, we were able to add multi-touch or gesture-based interaction without replacing the original hardware.

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Adrian College’s investment in a high-quality Planar display allowed us to upgrade the user experience without having to replace the touchscreen hardware.

Regardless of the manufacturer or installation environment, all equipment is subject to failure. Therefore, always consider the warranty period and support of the touchscreen hardware you purchase. Reputable manufacturers generally provide a 1 or 3-year advance replacement warranty on their touchscreen monitors, meaning you can receive a working replacement unit before you need to ship out your problem unit, minimizing the down time for your exhibit or installation.

This Ideum touch table at LASIR was briefly inhabited by a spider that built a web between the LCD display and the touch overlay. Thankfully, the hardware warranty included one on-site support trip. Within a matter of days, the manufacturer flew to Nashville to dissemble and clean the unit.

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So how long can you expect your touchscreen monitor last? If you chose wisely, you can expect to get at least 6 years of useful life–and hopefully many more.

 

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