You’re probably familiar with touchless technology, even if you’ve never heard about it. It can open doors, turn on lights, and process payments, among other things. Its functions go beyond convenience because it can improve buildings in multiple ways.
Touchless technologies can operate without any human touch. You can find them in stores, medical facilities, and public areas. Various kinds rely on different methods, but none need any physical interaction. If you’ve ever encountered an unclean public toilet and appreciated its self-flushing capabilities, you have touchless technology to thank.
Since the term is pretty general, there are plenty of kinds. Technology has advanced to the point where it
can recognize faces and gestures, so many of them capitalize on that.
There are lots of kinds of touchless technology, but some are more common:
- Biometrics: Touchless technology biometrics typically use your facial features to perform specific actions. Unlocking your phone with your face is one example.
- RFID: Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology utilizes radio waves to enable specific actions. An RFID tag programmed to open particular doors would let people pass through without opening them manually.
- Voice automation: Technology that utilizes voice recognition or activation is touchless. Some smart home devices can respond to verbal instructions and order groceries.
- Motion sensors: Many buildings use motion sensors in automatic lights or faucets, so you’ve probably used them before. Most use proximity sensors that rely on electromagnetic radiation to detect whether people are present.
Commercial building technology primarily focuses on enhancing the customer experience and employee productivity. Many places put them in areas with a lot of foot traffic because it provides the most benefits — a motion sensor wouldn’t have much use in a storage closet.
Since they perform well in buildings with a lot of movement, many fast-paced industries are implementing them. For example, convention centers can ensure their patrons’ safety by using contactless hand sanitizing stations and temperature sensors for their check-in process.
Typically, the devices are located in restrooms and entrances because they’re high-touch areas, but some buildings are taking things a step further. For example, Amazon opened a Whole Foods in 2022, where customers can use QR codes and palm recognition to shop and pay. They never have to interact with a cashier and can simply walk out after their hand scan.
There’s more to touchless technology than convenience. Many places started adopting it after COVID-19 to reduce cases and protect staff. Everyone on the planet had the shared experience of suddenly becoming germaphobes to an extent, so businesses and facilities responded to that by integrating hands-free technology.
Many are also incentivized by the potential to lower labor expenses because it’ll let workers spend less time cleaning high-touch areas or assisting customers. Additionally, many are integrating the technology due to consumers’ wants — around 62% of people worldwide expect buildings to increase their contactless interactions because of the pandemic. There’s a demand and extra incentive in the possibility of saving money, so it’s a clear decision for many.
Buildings use touchless technology to improve their cleanliness, accessibility, security, and ease of access. While it has many potential benefits, these are the most prevalent.
The entire world experienced the effects of the pandemic simultaneously, so it’s no surprise a growing concern over the spread of germs in public spaces exists. Many people who wouldn’t usually think twice about touching something now hesitate because they think about how dirty it must be.
Plenty of objects appear clean when they’re absolutely not because bacteria is on everything people touch. Human hands carry 3,200 different germs on average, so any high-touch area is bound to be unclean. Touchless technologies can improve buildings by making them much cleaner.
With no constant physical interaction, the spread of germs drastically reduces. For example, many buildings are adopting hands-free interactions for elevators since they’re one of the most frequently touched surfaces in a multi-tenant office.
The accessibility granted by commercial building technology is convenient for most people and necessary for others. Some individuals with disabilities need extra assistance, so many places have buttons you can hit to open the door instead of using the handle. While those usually work fine, touchless solutions offer a much better experience for them.
They allow those with physical impairments or challenges with fine motor skills to navigate spaces easily. They can open doors, turn on lights, or pay for their groceries without lifting a finger. Such technology improves buildings because it allows a greater range of accessibility for those who need it most.
Devices that rely on voice, movement, or feature recognition can provide a lot of extra security. Consider lights that operate on motion sensors. While they might appear in bathrooms or freezers, they’re also valuable for spotlighting potential intruders.
Outside of having general security applications, many touchless technologies are simply safer to use than alternatives. A few businesses use RFID tags in the workplace to limit the access of sensitive areas to authorized employees only. They’re much more efficient and secure than a simple lock and key.
The convenience of touchless technology incentivizes many businesses to transform their operations. While it may seem odd to imagine never having to turn on a light manually again, the ease of access is appealing.
It’s also a significant improvement for most buildings. Many consumers appreciate streamlined experiences and are willing to pay more or become loyal to a business for them. For example, 74% of people claim they’re more likely to visit a restaurant offering contactless self-service.
Employees and consumers benefit from a contactless environment because it provides greater accessibility, convenience, security, and cleanliness. It ultimately contributes to a safer, healthier environment, leading to greater productivity and efficiency. Making the world more manageable to navigate helps everyone thrive.