Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cleaning Touch Screens

It's really tough cleaning a touch screen monitor when the computer is on.


Craig said...

My touch-screen thermostat has a "cleaning mode" you can turn on for just that reason. Funny that more sophisticated devices sometimes lack it!

Chris Bensen said...


It isn't a problem for devices that shut down quickly such as iPhones, but for ones that are on continuously or take a while to turn on and shut down a cleaning mode would sure be a nice feature. Maybe the HP Touchsmart has one that I'm not aware of?

Xepol said...

Probably because the computer is part of the monitor and can not be powered seperately. YOu could maybe put it to sleep?

That aside, the whole touch screen thing is still one of those ideas that works best in theory. In reality, it is something more like a disease vectory - as long as you don't let anyone within 20 feet of so of it, you should be fine.

Otherwise you suddenly have to ask yourself if everyone who touches your screen washes their hands as thoroughly as you do, or if they really cover up properly when they sneeze or cough.

Still, research shows that ultra clean environments prevent kids from developing health immune systems - apparently catching colds is good for kids.

Less great for adults tho, so maybe attempting to popularize the plaugomatic wasn't a great industry choice.

You'd think a cleaning mode would be right in the basic design, or maybe they are designed to be bathed in bleach on a daily basis...

Chris Bensen said...


Putting the computer to sleep is how I've gotten around the problem. I guess that's a pretty simple solution but not always doable.

We are still in the first generation of touch devices so I suspect they will add the cleaning mode like the touch-screen thermostats have.

Craig said...

Chris, I'd rather see "instant-on/instant-off" for a touch computer (like my Android phone) than a cleaning mode like the thermostat, which requires such a thing since it doesn't have a power switch.

Xepol, I don't see how touch screens are any different than keyboards insofar as germ transmission is concerned (except, perhaps, that they're easier to clean).

Bob Swart said...

Just load a project and start a debugging session in Visual Studio - that will freeze your machine long enough to allow you to clean the screen (twice probably)... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Or pull up Delphi and try to open CodeInsight. ;)

Anonymous said...

Why not just do what I do when I clean my keyboard?
I just lock the session with [win]+ L.
Instantly done.
I just have to type in my password to go back; not so bad.
Or do touch screen need to be powered down for cleaning?

Chris Bensen said...


It seems to do better if the screen is shut down. The HP Touchsmart appears to have a slight charge which collects dust.

Foersom said...

I have seen keyboards for health care environment some month ago at the Cebit exhibition. They are typically made as membrane coverall that is easy to wipe clean. They had a special clean button that you could press while wiping the keyboard to block the keys.

Anonymous said...

"We are still in the first generation of touch devices"


I developed a touch screen app (in Delphi) TEN YEARS AGO. That was for an LCD touch screen system... CRT touch screens were OLD NEWS by then.

Chris Bensen said...


:) true, they have been around for some time, but certainly not mainstream and they were total junk. The first touchscreen I saw was in the mid 80's, a friend of the family was VP of HP sales and had a prototype unit. It had a grid of sensors with a very low touch resolution. It was really not that good. So we have come a long way since then. I guess I should rephrase that as "first generation of consumer touch screens for Windows". Is that better?

Anonymous said...

@Chris, no not really. The screens we were working with in 2000 were a world apart from what you describe in the 80s... those were the 1st Gen. In the late 90's/00's I guess we had 2nd or even 3rd gen and what we have now must be regarded as 4th or perhaps even 5th gen. But even those 2nd/3rd gen devices would have been entirely at home in the hands of consumers at the time - the price difference between a touch screen LCD and a regular LCD was about the same as they are now.

And some consumers *were* interested, and we weren't even waiting for the first pen/touch editions of popular OS's... Windows for Pen in the mid/late 90's and XP Tablet Edition later.

They quickly LOST interest however, and this is a pattern that I see with the current Nth generation of touch screens too.

Handheld touch devices work well and are a natural fit. Touch SCREEN's on desktop computers still do not work well outside of vertical market/kiosk type scenarios apart from sexy demos with WOW factor. Actual experience quickly becomes "W-OWCH!" as the aching in the arm held out to touch the screen and trying to peer around a huge arm+hand obscuring the interface overwhelms the initial "Minority Report Cool" factor.

And this perhaps explains the lack of consumer oriented features in such devices... until consumers really *DO* start picking them up (rather then techies drooling over the possibilities if/when they do) and providing feedback to the device manufacturers, we won't see consumer oriented/friendly features in them (if they add cost without adding sufficient $ ticket value).

Just my 0.02 of course.

Chris Bensen said...


I think you and Xepol are probably right. Touch screens won't catch on for the classic desktop computer. Small form factors appear to work best because of the lack of space for a keyboard and mouse. Embedded devices such as thermostats, kiosks or wall computers for the house of the future is probably where things are going.

Andreano Lanusse said...

I agree 100%, especially when you try to remove some think from the corner of your screen :)

Anonymous said...

I open a command prompt and put it in full screen mode (Alt-Enter) if I want to clean my LCD screen.

Warren said...

You could so easily write a touch-screen cleaning mini-app. Its job would be to stay open until you hit the space-bar, and display itself full-screen.

For fun, have it start all gray, and have it turn black as you wipe. Then you will know you covered everything. And black makes it easier to see residual dirt. :-)


Chris Bensen said...

@Warren, that'd be a fun little touchscreen app!

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