An Important Agreement
(Play Machine Magazine, March 2001)
News of the recently finalised agreement between Funworld and Elo Touchsystems has a number of consequences. We have explained why in this interview.
The announcement made by Funworld just before ATEI 2001, of the decision to choose Elo TouchSystems as its exclusive supplier of touch monitors and touchscreen systems for the entire new line of Photo Play and Touch2Web terminals, was one of the most important pieces of 'news' at the London exhibition. News that, given the leading position of the Austrian company in the European touch games sector, saw Elo score an important point against its direct competitor, Microtouch, in the match that sees them as rivals for supremacy in the gaming market.
"We are really pleased that Funworld, the world's largest manufacturer of touchscreen games, has selected our company to be their exclusive supplier of touch technology," commented Mike Sigona, European marketing manager of Elo. "Funworld will ship all its new Spirit 2.1 and Touch2Web terminals with our new 19-inch computer-grade CRT chassis touchmonitor featuring our breakthrough iTouch 'touch-on-tube' technology. On top of that, they are also changing all of their brand-new Net Collection LCD products (Barry 2.1 and Smart 2.1 bartop units) to our IntelliTouch technology based on pure glass touchscreen overlays."
How did you reach this result?
"It is the result of major efforts. For over a year now we have been working closely with Funworld to perfect our core touch technology for use in gaming machines. We first introduced our surface wave technology for CRTs (the so-called iTouch) in the spring of 1999, adapting it to the various applications. The latest result is the 19", 0.26 dot pitch chassis CRT computer-grade, mounted in Funworld cabinets, which has been designed specifically to give our customers the perfect display to enhance their games, as well as a reliable, cost-effective, ready to install and run solution."
What does this goal mean for your company?
"It is a very important step ahead, especially as far as our role in gaming is concerned. Our company is a leading firm in other markets, thanks to 30 years' experience, and features the largest portfolio of technologies available. Millions of our touch systems are installed all over the world, in a variety of sectors: public access, retail, industry, care, finance and banking, and so on. For example, our touchscreens are used in the ticket machines in the London underground."
Yet you had previously paid little attention to gaming.
"Not exactly, although I can say that before beginning with Funworld we had never focused so fully on specific products for this market. Now, after all the work we have completed, we believe that we now have a better product than we did before, and better than the competition. And this certainly involves a great step forward, including the possibility to acquire new customers in this market."
Have you seen the effect of this already?
"We have two important new customers in the UK, including Leisure Link. And the contacts underway allow us to believe that others will soon arrive."
Before we mentioned the competition. What is Elo's view on this subject?
"We like competition, and at the end of the day it is the customer that benefits from competition: they can get better products, at lower prices."
The new 19" CRT screen by Elo, featuring iTouch technology meets the requirements of games manufacturers, operators and players.
To better understand the technical characteristics that make the 19" CRT Elo touchscreens with iTouch technology mounted on new Funworld Spirit 2.1 and Touch2Web terminals more competitive, we interviewed Mike Sigona, Elo's market manager for gaming in Europe and the man who has been involved on a day by day basis over the last year with Funworld.
Could you explain, in a few words, what makes your new CRT touch screen different from the others?
"The main difference it that there is no touchscreen overlay on the CRT. As the CRT itself becomes the touch sensor, the picture quality is dramatically enhanced, with all the sharpness, contrast and colour depth the monitor's manufacturers intended."
What about the problem of reflections?
"By removing the need for overlays, we have obtained 80% less reflection. So it is much, much better even from this point of view. The same is true with regards to the touch monitor durability, another important feature for public venues such as games arcades. It is considerably improved because the CRT faceplate is stronger than even a bonded touchscreen overlay, making it much less susceptible to breakage or damage by vandalism."
What can you say about the response sensitivity and speed to the touch?
"Our new touchmonitor delivers fast touch response. We have been working hard on this aspect, optimising and speeding up the recognition to satisfy even the very fast players. Moreover we offer unique features like Z-axis (a characteristic of surface wave technology, consisting in measuring the pressure on the screen) and simultaneous touches without averaging, which has the potential to spawn a whole new generation of games for two players to share".
From what you say, it looks like there are many advantages for the players, too.
"Yes, on this subject I can tell you that Funworld has carried out a number of tests on site on a sample of players, comparing the performances of our technologies using surface wave technologies (iTouch and IntelliTouch) with the capacitive systems of the competition, applied on identical models of machines. The result was that the players prefer our technology in virtually every category surveyed: brightness, clarity, speed, sensitivity, lack of errors and fun."
The graphic illustrates the results of the comparative tests conducted by Funworld on a sample of its players asked to play 'Hexagon Twins' and 'Shanghai' on two Masters machines, one with a capacitive touch screen and the other with the iTouch CRT (surface wave) touchscreen by Elo, and then express their opinion on the performance of the two monitors.