“The iPhone was introduced in 2007. Since then a touchscreen has become so usual that now it is being taken for granted,” says Bernard Gosselink, CTOUCH CFO. The Eindhoven company CTOUCH is a manufacturer of the interactive displays – the kind of displays that can be found in classrooms and in meeting rooms of companies. “However, a touchscreen of a smartphone is not the same as the touchscreen in the environment of a classroom or a meeting space. What is important to consider the added value of a touch display in this condition. CTOUCH is focused on the applications of touchscreen technology in such a way that it helps people to collaborate in a more convenient and more professional way.”
The company began to produce interactive displays for the classroom environment in 2010 – at that time the touchscreens were gradually making their way to schools and universities in the Netherlands and other countries, gradually replacing the interactive whiteboards solutions. Now, in 2019, CTOUCH’ priority is the development of touch solutions that can be successfully integrated into a business environment.
Touchscreens designed for business are on the wall of the meeting room in CTOUCH’s office as well. During our interview with the screens in standby mode were displaying a calendar – Gosselink comments on it: “As you can see, on the 4th of February the person has a meeting here: he booked it via his Microsoft Outlook calendar and everyone can see it now that the room would be booked on this day.” The touchscreens also function as an interactive whiteboard. The smart software saves what the users have written down, it tracks what has been already done to help the end user to be more organized. The business solutions touchscreens are designed for the videoconferences – they use Skype for that purpose. Every CTOUCH interactive display has its own Skype address – Gosselink says that this way is more convenient and more professional than the usage of personal Skype accounts. “Now we have a product for the business environment that is fully Skype for Business-oriented (for Skype for Business or Office 365),” says Gosselink. “Now Microsoft is integrating Office 365 and Skype to Teams platform but with our technology, If you made your investment into the Skype for Business, you can still easily move to Microsoft Teams.”
And not only the software can be changed easily in the interactive displays by CTOUCH. As Gosselink describes it, the interactive displays are made of modules which can be replaced if the technology is advancing. “For example, if you need to use a new operating system, then you can replace the chip in the screen. Developing our screens, we keep in mind what kind of details will potentially be replaced in the following years. The touch panel is the most expensive element and this is the part that can serve for a long time without being changed.”
As Gosselink says, the work of CTOUCH is not focused on one technology, but on a combination of technologies in one solution: “We work closely together with Barco, Microsoft, JBL. For example, with JBL we have worked to create a professional sound system so that one doesn’t need to use extra speakers with our interactive displays. We work with software companies to make our product more complete. We are not inventors in terms of building something ourselves from scratch, but we are putting everything together to make one product that will meet the needs of the end users.”
Because CTOUCH’s goal is to meet the users’ needs, they have been working on making the products user-friendly – with an intuitively understandable interface. “When you come to the screen, you immediately see how you can use it. The screen sort of helps you – for example, when you are a little bit nervous during the important presentation,” says Gosselink. The company is interested in the feedback from the end-users, so the company contacts them directly as focus groups in different areas. “We are small, so it is easy for us to fulfil the requests of the customers in a form of our products. We work with students – for example, with Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Eindhoven and the Delft University of Technology. We are interested in the ideas and opinions coming from the students because all this feedback helps us to improve our products: in particular, to make the interfaces more convenient and more understandable for the end user.”
In 2018 the company moved to the area of Strijp-T in Eindhoven. This district is sometimes called a cradle of the Brainport region: Philips started its business there more than 125 years ago. The CFO of CTOUCH considers Strijp-T to be a favourable area for the work and growth of high-tech companies: both because of many opportunities to work closely together and because of the practical reasons, such as the close-to-the-centre location and the easy access to the offices with all kinds of transportation.
Photo: © Marijke Krekels