Durability, Reliability, and Longevity - What You Want in a Touch Table or Touch Display

Our touch tables and touch displays are designed for demanding spaces

Durability, Reliability, and Longevity - What You Want in a Touch Table or Touch Display
Visitors explore digital touch screen.

by Jim Spadaccini, Founder August 18th, 2022

An important design principle that we always keep front and center whenever we are designing a new product or a custom touch table, kiosk, or exhibit is durability. I think that got drummed into me when I worked at the Exploratorium science museum back in the 1990s. The visiting public is hands-on and they can be rough on your exhibits. The same holds true today and while a hands-on science museum might be an extreme example, a corporate experience center or other public environments can still be demanding spaces for hardware.

So what makes our standard hardware so durable? First off, our touch screen and PC enclosures and our touch table chassis are all made of powder-coated aluminum. Almost all of our competitors use plastic. Our touch displays use a patented manufacturing process (#10,225,509) which uses cast aluminum corners along with an extruded aluminum frame. This produces an extremely rigid and lightweight enclosure for the LG commercial displays and the touch sensors we integrate.

Hardware component from an Ideum touch table.
Ideum’s patented display enclosure is the toughest screen enclosure we’ve ever encountered.

Our touch tables and displays have lockable access– so visitors can’t get access to USB ports, the power button, or any other method of input into the computer systems. Again, most of our competitors don’t provide locking access. Part of making a system long-lasting is to pay attention to security issues that might provide unauthorized access.

Closeup of IO box hardware.
Ideum’s retractable, locking IO box for power and access to the computer system as it appears on many of our systems.

Another way to ensure that our systems perform reliably is to make sure that there is adequate cooling. Keeping all of the electronic components cool will help ensure good performance and longevity. We prototype to ensure that we understand the thermodynamics of cooling our systems. We use active cooling with additional fans (and for our Ultimate computer systems, liquid cooling). In addition, we design our cases which, again, are all aluminum to maximize cooling. For some of our slimmer line systems we’ve designed a case inside of the chassis to help keep things cool and protected.

Animation showing the computer enclosure inside a lockable door.

We build our custom touch tables, kiosks, and other exhibits with durability in mind. Most custom builds are not made out of aluminum, although we have had a few notable exceptions, like the ACMI touch tables. We love working with solid surface materials like Staron because of their durability as a finish, but we can work with just about any material or finish. We’ve built custom touch tables out of a variety of wood, metal, and glass, and we even built a touch table for IDEO that was clad in Italian marble!

We offer the same warranty for our custom work as we do for our standard products. (Although there are a few exceptions based on the finish since some materials are less durable than others.) The components are often the same as our standard products. In fact, our Inline Touch Displays are typically utilized; these large open-frame systems are designed to be put into furniture, enclosures, and even walls.

Docent at the San Diego Zoo shows visitors digital touch exhibition.
A custom touch table Ideum designed and developed for San Diego Zoo. It has a Staron top and wood base with powder-coated aluminum trim for maximum durability.

Of course, we also design in proper security and cooling of these custom systems. We often use the same IO boxes found in our standard systems and often we are using similar cooling techniques. Our experience designing products allows us to make better custom systems and vice-versa.

I am happy to report that the vast majority of our touch tables are still going strong, even up to a decade after they were installed. Our installations at Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum are a couple of notable examples. If you are interested in our touch tables or displays or a custom system, please feel free to reach out to our sales group.